With something approaching stability, PIL went into the studio to record Happy? Featuring John Lydon’s recent touring band — a group of punk all-stars that included guitarist John McGeoch of Magazine and Siouxsie & The Banshees and multi-instrumentalist Lu Edmonds of the Damned, the new team took the oversized hard-rock of the Bill Laswell produced Album and found their own uncomfortable niche. “Uncomfortable” being a prime Lydon characteristic, since he was always eyeballing an edge. “Seattle” was a brilliant single, much in line with the either/or tradition of “Bad Life” and “Rise.” “The Body” studies an unplanned pregnancy with less shock value than the Sex Pistols’ “Bodies,” and a whole lot more studio polish. “Save Me” sounds more like a military march taking place in a football stadium. For the first time in his musical career, Lydon has his vocals nearly buried by the mix. His vitriolic screams are tempered with harmonies and heavy reverb and a band louder than he. He still gets a few good rips off on “Hard Times,” “Angry” and “Fat Chance Hotel,” but his detachment is more audio-realized than ever before.

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