My Top 1000 Songs #220: Public Image

Public Image Ltd., starring the post-Sex Pistols Johnny [Rotten] Lydon, are on the list of bands I know I'm supposed to like a lot more than I actually do. They've had some fine singles over the years, and I think 1986's Album did a fine job tethering Lydon's abrasive wail to a more (college) radio-friendly indie rock sound. But while I can appreciate the inventive experimentation of, say, their second album, it's more something I respect in principle than a record I feel like spinning up very often. (Also known as the Captain Beefheart phenomenon.)

But I sure do love their 1978 debut single. And that's probably because its blast of punk rock fury makes it sound a lot more like the Sex Pistols' final single than Public Image Ltd.'s first. The rumbling bass, echoing drums, and Lydon's "hello? hello? hello?" make for one of the most attention-grabbing, distinctive song openings I know, and that's before the chiming, roaring guitars even enter the fray. It's one of those songs that demands room-shaking volume, and instantly rewards it, every bit the statement of purpose that "Anarchy In The UK" had been just a few years prior. I just wish the band had more songs in this vein.