Public Image Ltd and me.

Public Image Ltd. are reuniting for a series of shows.

Reading that news today prompted me to reminisce about the role PiL played in my development as a music fan.

I grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere that only had a handful of radio stations. The only station that played rock and roll was fairly conservative–Top 40 and classic rock. So Top 40 and classic rock was pretty much all I knew until 1987.

Two videos on MTV that year changed my life forever. The first was New Order’s “True Faith,” which actually did crack the Top 40 and so got a couple of plays on the local station. The other was PiL’s “Seattle.”

While both songs are terrific, there really isn’t anything notable about them by 1980’s “alternative” (I hate that word) standards.  But to a kid with extremely limited exposure to music by virtue of geography, they sounded revolutionary. I went to school the day after I heard “Seattle” and raved about it to a buddy of mine. He had a cool older sister and hence a lot more exposure to this kind of stuff, so he gave me  the rundown on the band–how it was the dude from the Sex Pistols and all. And that event set me on my life’s path of exploring music beyond the Top 40. Soon I was trading tapes with the skater kids and watching 120 Minutes when I could stay up late enough.

PiL put out one classic album, 1979’s dark and challenging Metal Box, before moving in a poppier direction. They were too inconsistent to be considered anything close to a great band, but they did drop a fair number of killer singles over their checkered career.

And we’ll always have “Seattle.”

Public Image Ltd. – “Seattle”


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