Melody Maker, July 1984
© 1984 Melody Maker
THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT, THIS IS WHAT YOU GET
by LYNDEN BARBER
JUST when you thought you
had the bugger pinned down as a spent force, a wasted opportunist and
black and white photocopy of a colourful historical figure, along comes
this new thing which upsets everything and makes us have to start all
over again. Damnation!
Of course, not many people will want to admit it, but 'This Is What You Want, This Is What You Get' stands comparison with the very best of the Public Image canon, and is certainly the most consistent LP ever released under that name. This is what you get: balls and bangs, brass that'll tear the roses off the wallpaper and, in tune with the times, an appealing populism.
True, 'This Is Not A Love Song' wasn't much cop, but the revamped version contained herein is, and 'Bad Life' deserves to follow Frankie's pathway to the top. Stranger things have, after all, occurred. Perhaps the best news is that John Lydon - whoops, Rotten - is making us rattle the rib-cage again. Your obedient correspondent liked 'Anarchy In The UK' better than 'White Riot' because it made me laugh. Great big chunks of the first PiL album were quite a hoot, as was 'The Flowers Of Romance' in places. 'Metal Box' wasn't exactly a barrel of giggles, which is perhaps why, in retrospect, it seems the least enduring, most over-rated and unlistenable of the old scuzz-bag's records.
Whenever captured on camera (that session with Nicky Horne was pretty special) or in front of the hacks his wit has always been honed sharply enough to carve the stupidity of his inquisitors into strips and have the audience collapsing in fits, but thankfully he's now got it back on record. One just lurves the way he whines his way through 'Solitaire', the diseased memories of post-womb life on 'Tie Me To The Length Of That' are an artful balance between the sinister and the sniggerworthy, and the (in effect) title track is smiles-a-go-go.
No, it's not a comedy record, because musically this is fine stuff. Aided and abetted by drummer Martin Atkins, bass guitarist Louis Bernardi, guitarist Colin Woore, keyboardist Richard Cottle and Gary Barnacle's splendiferous sax arrangements, Rotten has come up with a collection of corkers; tight, slightly warped but genuinely accessible songs powered by thumping great rhythms, all lovingly captured in a dazzling sensurround production. There is even a track that sounds like Pink Floyd's 'Obscured By Clouds' played upside down in an intergalactic disco, which should get the old spiky tops scratching their heads.
A record to baste the brainpot the same time as it's toasting the toes.
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