John Lydon didn’t fade away when the Sex Pistols broke up. In fact, by many markers, he had his most creative period; or at least, a period he seems a lot more proud of than his youthful Johnny Rotten days.
Public Image Ltd is the most long lived and successful of his post-Pistols ventures. Fittingly for one of Punk’s biggest stars, Public Image Ltd is an archetypal post-punk outfit, mixing raucous, discordant guitar with dub influenced mixing and simple basslines.
“Public Image” is a song written by Johnny Rotten while he was still in the Sex Pistols, when he felt Malcolm McClaren was using him to make money and that the press were uncaring and unfair. He was essentially just viewed as a loud figurehead there for the band’s “public image”.
Jah Wobble’s bassline is a great one, a gyrating pulse of energy driving the song along.
The guitar parts are melodic in a dissonant sort of way. It’s that cacophonous sound which characterises much of the music labelled as Post-Punk.
The song was released in 1978, as a single and on the band’s debut album Public Image: First Issue. It got to number 9 on the U.K. Singles Chart.