The Flowers of Romance
Public Image Limited turned out to be a collapsing entity. First to go was bassist Jah Wobble. Rather than find a substitute for Wobble, the band soldiered on with drummer Martin Atkins banging his way to immortality. The result is a weirdly sparse album of odd keyboard and guitar parts, antsy rhythms and singer John Lydon (formerly the Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten) railing in his most strident tones against everything around him. The result has been described as “Arabesque,” since its tonalities shade towards a Middle-Eastern feel, with the vocal lines sounding more and more like chants from another world. It is not immediately accessible music, but for those who attune themselves to the unusual time signatures, the album is mesmerizing. The rafter-shaking “Four Enclosed Walls” is a spine-tingling opener. “Track 8” is filled with ear-catching imagery. The title track is deliriously wild with sound. “Banging the Door” is a tense, demanding anthem. “Under the House” rattles the windows with its ghostly moaning. “Francis Massacre” is the sound of a town being pillaged. Along with Second Edition, an essential album.