Sounds, 27th October 1990

© 1990 Sounds

Greatest Hits So Far…



JUST when PiL reach a bombastic bursting point, Lydon reinvents himself once again and emerges with 'Don't Ask Me', an innocuous piece of environmentally friendly bubble gum that, for some strange reason, has provoked mass hysteria around these parts. It is proving a treacly resolution to financial hardship. Fair enough, the poor old bugger needed a hit. The last single to make any impression chart wise was '86's 'Rise'. Last year's foray into stadium rock belly flopped spectacularly.

The face of '76 often appeared terribly ill-equipped for the Eighties. Having apparently achieved all he set out to achieve with '79's 'Metal Box', Lydon spent most of the following decade chasing own tail, ungraciously trying to negate time's passing. From time to time, PiL would turn out some fairly witty and compelling meta-pop ('Flowers Of Romance', 'This is Not a Love Song', 'Rise') but spent most of their time verging dangerously close to self-parody.

If anything, this patchy compilation serves to remind us just how little they have achieved over the last 12 years. Halfway through the first side and most of their good ideas have been spent. There's the tearing momentum of 'Public Image', one of the great post-punk movements. There's the hypnotic post-disco dirge of 'Death Disco' and 'Careering'. The obscure echo chamber of 'Flowers Of Romance'.

The remainder of the album is hogged by a series of dubious remixes, all of them previously available with the exception of 'Rise'. The original impact of the track is muted by Bob Clearmountain's incongruously pretty synth embellishments. Bill Laswell's treatment of 'Home' recalls the heyday of dry wank AOR like Styx or Foreigner. It gets worse though.

'The Body' and 'Warrior' are turned into extended bouts of sub Moroder disco rock with obligatory scratch / hip hop away day returns. Even those atrocities are dwarfed by the sheer awfulness of Stephen Hague's treatment of 'Disappointed', which sees a somewhat bemused PiL attempting to negotiate a path between Simple Minds and Bon Jovi. Quite honestly it's as welcome as a lead-filled sock around the back of the neck.

You'd be wiser to invest in the recently reissued 'Metal Box', where PiL were playing themselves right past music rather than playing down to some of its most hideous banalities.


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