PUBLIC IMAGE, LTD. – “COMMERCIAL ZONE” LP plus 2 live sets
After “The Flowers of Romance” in 81′ , tensions between John Lydon and PiL guitarist/co-founder Keith Levene unraveled what was left of the original band, and Lydon carried on under the PiL moniker with studio musicians. The studio material they were working on at the time was scrapped, and Lydon started over with the new musicians, eventually coming up with “This Is What You Want…This Is What You Get” (1984), one of their best efforts in my opinion, beyond the surface impression you might have of the album based solely upon its hit single “This Is Not A Love Song.”
Before Lydon and Co. could track “This Is What You Want,” Levene did a mix job on the material from the aborted earlier sessions. When done, Levene submitted the tracks as “the next PiL album”, while Lydon dismissed the idea of releasing it under the band’s name. “Commercial Zone,” as Levene’s collection was called, was abandoned by Virgin Records, forcing Levene to put it out briefly in the U.S. on a record label created just for this one-off release. It’s been commercially unavailable ever since.
“Commercial Zone” is a mixed affair, not as cohesive as “This Is What You Want,” even though about 2/3rds of its material ended up in some form on the later official album. The final few songs on the record are of the most interest here, as they follow in the same experimental fuck-all vein as “Flowers of Romance.”
Also included here are two live PiL sets, one of which is from the legendary 1981 NYC “show” where PiL’s “performance” caused a full-scale audience riot! Of the show, Wikipedia sez:
“The band’s musical core had by then been stripped down to Lydon and Levene (drummer Martin Atkins had recently departed), and PiL had begun to relocate to New York, partly because MI5 was conducting an harassment campaign — later admitted — against the band’s headquarters, the London flat that Lydon bought with his Sex Pistols royalties. (A similar campaign would chase Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV frontman Genesis P. Orridge out of Britain in the early ’90s.) Levene had also begun to rethink PiL’s formerly-ironic claims to be a ‘corporation’ and an ‘art collective’. While friends of the band including filmmaker Jeanette Lee had long been ‘full members’ of PiL (original drummer Jim Walker was only ‘voted off the board’ in 1980), no creative works besides the records had ever ensued. For the Ritz gig however, Levene decided that PiL would reorganize as an improvisational multimedia troupe — working, as usual, without planning or rehearsals.
PiL appeared at the Ritz playing from behind a projection screen. (Drummer Sam Ulano had been recruited for the gig from a bar — the 60-year-old jazz player had never heard the band before). While something reminiscent of, but clearly different from PiL, improvised behind the screen, PiL records were played simultaneously through the PA. Lydon taunted the audience, who expected to hear familiar material (or at least see the band), and a melÃ©e erupted in which the audience pelted the stage with bottles and pulled on a tarp spread under the band, toppling equipment. The promoters cleared the hall and cancelled the next night’s show, and a local media furor ignited in New York.”