JOHN LYDON
The Best of British £1 Notes DVD

reviews for JL.Com by Scott M of Fodderstompf.Com

© 2005 F&F Publishing / JohnLydon.Com

 
 
 

How we longed to see the day… An official DVD release of PiL and Pistols material (etc). But from the start lets make this clear; this is a promo video compilation, not a rarities archive (maybe another day?).

However, that's not to say it doesn't include rarities or even unreleased material; and I'm not just talking about the extras. The very first video, 'Anarchy in the UK' is the original EMI version which was previously unreleased, at least in full. PiL's 'Covered' never really got shown either since it was due for release just as PiL and Virgin went their separate ways back in 1992. And a lot of this stuff like 'Sun' just wasn't shown at the time, or even since. So there's a lot more to this compilation than first meets the eye.

Give or take a alternative version, virtually every single PiL video is included here. The only thing I can think of that's missing is the live promo for 'This is Not a Love Song' from 'Live in Tokyo', and that's not exactly a bad thing. There aren't videos for 'Memories' or 'Flowers of Romance', or the Pistols 'Holidays in the Sun' for that matter.

Trainspotter Alert! And for the record, the censored version of 'The Body' is pretty much the same but doesn't show John pulling the stick from his trousers. That's it. The non-title version of 'Don't Ask Me' is also virtually the same but doesn't the feature the "story" captions.

The Pistols 'Pretty Vacant' isn't included, but it's not on the CD either, and instead you get the 'Pretty Vacant Live' video from Finsbury Park. Which again was hardly shown at the time. The usual version of 'Pretty Vacant' is the video that's always shown on TV, I'm just about bored looking at it to be honest. This 'Filthy Lucre' video is far more exciting.

It's funny, I'd remembered a lot of the PiL video's as being awful, and some of them probably are; though probably on purpose ('Bad Life' anybody!). But I have to say the majority of them are far better than I remembered. There are some real diamonds like 'Rise', 'Public Image' and 'Death Disco'. But I'd forgotten how good the likes of 'Warrior' or 'Don't Aske Me' were too. 'World Destruction' and 'Open Up' are also great videos and a welcome addition to the compilation.

The Sex Pistols live "extras" will really leave you hungry for more. 'Silver Machine' taken from John's own footage, and filmed on one camera from the side of the stage, might be rough and ready but it captures the whole feel of the gig. 'Bodies' from Phoenix is exceptional, recorded the night after the Axiom Beach Festival fiasco it was a stunning return to form; the energy flows through the band.

The PiL monitor mixes of 'Albatross' and 'Death Disco' included as "audio extras" are arguably the highlight of the disc for me. Only recently rediscovered; these are the live unedited takes from the studio. Powerful and stunning doesn't cover it. The full version of 'Death Disco' (reaching near 10 minutes) says it all to me. If you aren't affected by it; then I afraid you don't get PiL, it really is as simple as that. You'll never hear a more honest or frightened vocal.

The first version of 'Albatross' is pretty similar to the released album take, maybe a little more raw, and with a few extra drum effects. However, the second version known as the "Melodrama Mix", although keeping a similar backing track also features Wobble on melodica. I'd never realised PiL had experimented with melodica, but given their interest in reggae it's probably only natural, but it was perhaps too obvious a reference and it never made the finished version. The "Melodrama Mix" is mostly "dubby" but still includes a vocal, well, it actually includes two. As well as John's prominent chorus (and I use the term very loosely), you also get Wobble messing about in the background, screaming, and shouting ("I'm a bleeding great Albatross!"). The whole track was probably just a bit of fun in the studio that was never meant to see the light of day, but it's not without its merit. The difference between this light hearted take of 'Albatross' and the emotion of 'Death Disco' are just another example of what PiL were all about.

If I was to pick fault with anything on the DVD it would be the (far from thorough) discography, but since it's just a throwaway extra I'm not gonna grumble too much. If you really want a discography there's a pretty good one on this site anyway.

The whole DVD has been completely remastered, it looks and sounds great. I especially like the way the title's have been put together using John's artwork and 'The Rabbit Song', plus a mixture of the videos. The sleeve and packaging are also worth a special mention too; given their bigger size it really lets you see John's artwork in its full glory.

Wrap it in a packet and you know you've gotta have it.

 
 
 

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