Various Artists John Lydon - The Best of British £1 Notes Review

Released 2005.  

BBC Review

The real pleasure here is the often-overlooked yet deeply beautiful body of work he...

Daryl Easlea 2005

Although now reduced to a shock-headed caricature, no one could ever dispute John Lydon's straight-ahead integrity and flair. To hear these tunes from all parts of his career brought together on a 2 CD collection is something of a masterstroke and is the perfect reminder of Johnny's past exploits, proving he's not just a walking cartoon. The second disc of additional material and remixes includes the still-incredible "Poptones" and "Careering".

The Sex Pistols singles lurch out with familiar acceleration but these days seem to lack the controversy they once had. They sound more like Hawkwind album tracks! However, "Anarchy In The UK" is still as robust as ever, all splutter and spleen-venting.

But the real pleasure here is the often-overlooked yet deeply beautiful body of work he created as the driving force behind Public Image Ltd. Using vast expanses of dub to anchor the sharp sonic stabs of guitarist Keith Levene's jangle, their first two albums remain the ultimate uneasy listen. Then, there was the point when Lydon grafted the English folk tradition to squalls of noise producing the otherworldly "Flowers Of Romance" and "Rise". And "This Is Not A Love Song" is as shocking now as it was then, certainly as it sits here between "Public Image" and "Open Up".

Even the later PiL records stand up well, such as the anti-Malcolm McLaren rant "Disappointed" and the storming rock monstery of "Seattle". And then there are the collaborations: "World Destruction" with Afrika Bambaataa now sounds somewhat dated, yet "Open Up" with Leftfield remains an exhilarating ride.

Although it's highly unlikely that he'll reach these heights again it's great to have all his work documented on this Best Of.

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