Metal Box LP


Disc 1: Albatross / Memories / Swan Lake (Death Disco)
Disc 2: Poptones / Careering / No Birds [Do Sing] / Graveyard ('Another' Instrumental)
Disc 3: The Suit / Bad Baby / Socialist / Chant / Radio 4

Release Date:

Label & Catalogue Number:
Virgin. METAL 1

Highest UK Chart Position:

Vox - John Lydon
Guitar/Synth - Keith Levene
Bass - Jah Wobble
Drums - Richard Dudanski / Martin Atkins / David Humphrey / Jah Wobble / Keith Levene
Full track breakdown inc, studio info

Format Info:
3 x 12" in embossed PiL logo metal can, separated by plain white paper inserts, plus A5 track list/info insert.

Although only 60,000 (50,000 UK, & 10,000 import) were pressed 'Metal Box' was never intended to be limited edition. Virgin didn't want to press any more due to costs; and even then PiL still had to give up the majority of their advance to get the metal canister.

Originally, the plan was also to include a lyric sheet. However, costs wouldn't run that high so it was decided to run a full page advert in the music press featuring the lyrics.

Another scrapped idea was to seal the metal box with with PiL logo tape. They got as far as making the tape, but again, due to costs it was never used.

The album was later re-issued as the double album 'Second Edition'.

Track Info:
'Swan Lake' (aka 'Death Disco') is a slightly different mix to the 7" with extra synth at the very end.

'Memories' is also a different mix to the single... 'No Birds' (aka 'No Birds Do Sing') is the same version as the B-side of the 'Death Disco' 7".

'Graveyard' is an instrumental version of 'Another' from the 'Memories' single.

Writing / Publishing:
All tracks Written by Public Image Ltd
Published by Warner Chappell Music Ltd / EMI Virgin Music Ltd © 1979 Virgin Records Ltd

PiL later claimed 24 tracks were left unreleased, 7 actual tracks, the rest were short 1 & 2 second tracks.

The studio recording of 'Bad Baby' was Martin Atkins audition for the band.

The release of the album was delayed due to accidental damage of the records/packaging by the packing plant.

The "Nick" John refers to in 'The Suit' is studio engineer Nick Cook, not Nick Launay...


Produced by 'Public Image Ltd'
Engineered by Nick Cook & Hugh Padgham

The Manor, Oxfordshire / Town House, London / Advision, London

Sleeve Design:
Concept: PiL & Dennis Morris
Packaging: The Metal Box Company

'Metal Box' was hard work. First, Virgin weren't very sure about the metal package, you know, cost, blah blah blah. So we offered to pay for some of it by reducing our advance from them. Obviously the idea of putting a record in a metal box was a bit unusual. The idea came from film canisters. We all thought video and film was the future. Besides, I've always collected vinyl and this was a really good way of stopping it getting damaged.
- John Lydon, 'Plastic Box' sleevenotes 1999

We all came up with the concept of the Metal Box. The way it came together was that we got it made at this factory called "The Metal Box Company". It was just the logistics between the idea and how we could get it made up, which made it look the way it did and made us put three pieces of vinyl in it. It cost us £35,000 of our advance back to get it out. It ran at 45rpm so you could get the best response on your sound system. We thought 45's were cool. They were like almost pre-releases.
- Keith Levene, Perfect Sound Forever 2001

Metal Box

Press Reviews:
NME, 24th November 1979


Also see the Fodderstompf 'Metal Box' page featuring extensive review and additional info.

2006 vinyl re-issue.
See review for full info…

Metal Box re-issue LP review






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