Public Image Limited:
Plastic Box


(see individual reviews)

Running Time: (see individual reviews)

review by Scott M, May 1999 (First published F&F 9)
© 1999 / F&F Publishing

Be warned this is a long review…

Plastic Box coverGod, where to begin... It all started last July when completely out the blue I got a letter from Virgin saying that they were considering releasing a PiL box set, and would I be willing to help!! Apparently years ago the masters to the 12" version of 'Death Disco' had accidentally been destroyed, they had tried John and he didn't have a copy (apparently he gave it away, and never got it back), and they'd tried Wobble, Wobble didn't have it but he recommended they got in touch with me (which is nice!), obviously I've got it, but to cut a long story short, they managed to find a copy themselves...

Virgin were also looking for a loan of some of the rarer sleeves, and asked for my opinion on the original track listing (which really wasn't that different to the released version). Straight away I was surprised at the lack of unreleased material, however, apparently it wasn't for the want of trying, there was just so much hassle with licenses etc that in the end they decided not to use any. For instance Martin Atkins turned up with a cassette full of unreleased tracks and outtakes from around 1980. Apparently it featured a track called 'Vampire', which I know absolutely nothing about, but check this out... the tape also featured a version of 'Twist and Shout'! Apparently it was a bit of a piss-take and more like karoke than a proper track, but PiL doing 'Twist and Shout'! I'd never have expected that! There was also brief talk of using tracks from 'Commercial Zone', but again there was hassle with licences, and apparently John didn't want it on anyway. I asked Virgin about the re-recorded version of 'First Issue' that PiL had done for Warners in early 1979, but unfortunately nobody knew anything about it (I forgot to ask Wobble what he knew about it). Same goes for 'Renovations' the project where Lydon and McGeoch etc re-recorded various PiL tracks and planned to issue them as a budget mini-LP in the late eighties. It's obvious all this does stuff exist, but if it wasn't included on 'Plastic Box' then I don't see it ever coming out and we'll probably never get to hear JL scream "Shake it up baby"! I asked Virgin if there was any chance that an 'Unreleased Tracks' CD would ever be released, and they seemed very doubtful, apparently with all the licenses etc it would be more hassle than it would be worth...

As I say I was surprised about the lack of unreleased material, I have to say I was also surprised that the set included so little later material too, basically everything 1987-92 (three albums and more) was squeezed onto one disc. One of the first suggestions I made was to cut some of the 'Flowers of Romance' and 'This is What You Want...' tracks and replace them with more 87+ stuff , unfortunately they didn't listen! In general I liked the track listing, but even back then it was clear 'PB' was meant more as a definitive compilation than anything else, a sort of 'Greatest Hits So Far' done properly. Anyway, enough of my waffling, on with the review...

Review Continues:

CD 1
CD 2
CD 3
CD 4


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Plastic Box cover
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