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Second Edition

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iTunes Review

After the self-destruction of the Sex Pistols, singer Johnny Rotten reclaimed his given name of John Lydon and formed Public Image Ltd. with guitarist Keith Levene and bassist Jah Wobble and a variety of drummers. Their first album, released in the U.S. as First Issue years after the fact, was a caterwauling of post-Pistols guitar distortion and Lydon raving in the wake. Second Edition was initially released as three 12” 45s crammed in a film canister as Metal Box, before being issued as a standard 2-LP set. The music is unlike anything else the band had ever recorded. It went deeper into dub dynamics, with Wobble’s bass often leading the attack on instrumentals such as “Socialist” and “Graveyard” and the lyrical declamations of “Albatross,” where Lydon swears off his previous life. Echoes of Amon Düül II and Krautrock in general can be heard throughout these performances, which are highlighted by the fantastic “Swan Lake” and “Memories,” where the music finds a completely new gear to shift up to. Quite simply, along with its follow-up The Flowers of Romance, one of the greatest albums of any era.

Customer Reviews

Punk STARTS here

The rules had to be broken for the ethic of "Punk" to be truly born. The Sex Pistols, Clash & Ramones set the rules of the punk "sound" and then Lydon and his musical assault team, PiL, completely shattered any preconceptions of what was possible after the Pistols fizzled out. He single-handedly said "F-you" to the F-you crowd and THAT, in my opinion, is when it went from a fashion trend to a viable musical direction. I was 15 when I first heard it in 1983 (4 years after it's release) and my mouth dropped. I set aside Black Flag and had my mind expanded as Levine, Wobble and Lydon spoke to me. This is the finest hour of punk rock as it bears no resemblence to what you assume it should be. It's gorgeous, dangerous and completely original.

Get "Metal Box" on vinyl instead

This would be 5 stars but the mastering job on this (the US version) is awful! The UK mastering of the original Metal Box release is much more bass heavy and organic sounding than Second Edition. This one sounds really, really flat. Get the newly reissued Metal Box 3xLP from Three Men With Beards to fully experience this mindblowing record.


This album changed the way I listened to music - boundaries are few if any. This record truly set an early but very high bar for those that followed. Somewhat of a difficult listen at first but when you get past the initial shock you begin to hear the brilliance and relevance. "Careering" is a favorite.


Formed: 1978 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the first and most significant post-punk bands, Public Image Ltd. (PiL) were originally a quartet led by singer John Lydon (formerly Johnny Rotten, born January 31, 1956) and guitarist Keith Levene, who had been a member of the Clash in one of its early lineups. The band was filled out by bassist Jah Wobble (John Wordle) and drummer Jim Walker. It was formed in the wake of the 1978 breakup of Lydon's former group, the Sex Pistols. For the most part, the band's early incarnation devoted itself...
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