The Best of British £1 Notes

CD | DVD | Special Edition | Info | Press | Interview

   
 
     
     
 

Interviews

 
  JohnLydon.Com Interview,
13th October 2005
 
     
  BBC Radio 2, * MP3
Johnnie Walker Show 26th August 2005
(hosted by John Inverdale)
 
  (17.10 mins) (7.8 mb) (64 kbps only)  
     
   
 
 
  The Sunday Times Culture Magazine,
2nd October 2005
 
     
  The Irish Times,
2nd October 2005

 
     
  Record Collector Magazine,
November 2005 - Interview removed by JL.Com see 'Bollocks Section!'
 
     
  Q Magazine,
December 2005
 
     
     
 
 
 

JL.Com reviews

 
  The Best of British £1 Notes CD  
  The Best of British £1 Notes DVD  
     
     
 

Press reviews

 
  "You should never be shy of negativity, ever. So what?"  
     
   
  Scunthorpe Telegraph, 29th September 2005  
  Shields Gazette, 29th October 2005  
  The Sun, 30th September 2005  
  Evening Star, 30th September 2005  
  Nuts, 30th September 2005  
  The Times, October 1st 2005  
  The Sillygraph, October 1st 2005  
  Morning Star, 1st October 2005  
  Independent on Sunday, 2nd October 2005  
  Manchester Evening News, 7th October 2005  
  Kerrang, October 8th 2005  
  Music Week, 8th October 2005  
  Belfast Telegraph, 14th October 2005  
  Metro, 14th October 2005 (DVD)  
  Fife Free Press, 14th October 2005  
  Plymouth Evening Herald, 14th October 2005  
  Shropshire Star, 15th October 2005  
  Time Out, 19th October 2005  
  Doncaster Free Press, 20th October 2005  
  Classic Rock, October 2005  
  Big Cheese, October 2005  
  Q Magazine, November 2005 (CD)  
  Q Magazine, November 2005 (DVD)  
  Mojo, November 2005 (DVD)  
  Mojo, November 2005 (CD)  
  DVD Monthly, November 2005 (DVD)  
  Zero, November 2005 (CD)  
  Uncut, November 2005  
  Bass, November 2005  
  The Word, November 2005  
  Zero, December 2005 (DVD)  
  BBC.co.uk, December 2005  
  Daily Mirror, 23rd December 2005  
     
     
     
   
     
     
     
 

NME, 28th September 2005

The Best Of British £1 Notes CD

"Re-issue of the week"

Rotten to the Core
Career-spanning compilation from every dentist's dream date

John Lydon hasn't been called Johnny Rotten for about 25 years, but if you mentioned that name to pretty much anyone in the country, they'd know precisely who you meant. They'd picture a 21-year-old leaning at almost 90 degrees into his mic stand, a ripped Vivienne Westwood shirt and tartan bondage trousers strung across his rake-thin frame, A Dickensian bad-boy in cheap, rectangular sunglasses whose whiplash anger and natural intellect inspired the last great pop-driven generational divide of our times. Let us not forget that this is a man who, nearly 30 years ago, caused a handful of people to actually destroy their own television sets when he appeared on them, cackling like a madman, for fear their children might see him and want to be like him. Who can you say that about today? Sure, 50 Cent's moronic mug makes me want to kick the shit out of my TV too, but not for the same reason,

Johnny Rotten, however, was only a very small part of John Lydon. And Lydon, a man who has turned his own spit and snarl into art, has made a fair few incredible records of his own. In fact, if there's one thing that this, his first ever career-spanning compilation proves, it's that the Sex Pistols, as great a singles band as they were, were only the beginning of a journey into some seriously dark territory. The Pistols, for all their fury, were irredeemably linked with the past. Malcolm McLaren's teddy-boy fantasies made pasty, spotty, flesh. The Pistols were never about the future of anything and while the tracks representing them here ('Anarchy in the UK', 'Holidays in the Sun' and 'God Save The Queen') are brilliant pop records, as furious and righteous today as they have ever been, they are musical dead ends built on Eddie Cochran riffs written around the same year Lydon was born.

This compilation shows the best thing the Pistols ever did was create a market for Lydon's more outre dreams and 'The Best Of British £1 Notes' compiles these with real skill. With PiL, with Afrika Bambaataa and with Leftfield, Lydon is a constant force for change and he demands the listener take some risks too. Take a track like the 12" version of 'Death Disco'. Removed from its home on 1979's 'Metal Box', it sounds unearthly, mineshaft dark, like music imagined by someone who'd never heard any, surely a great place to start.

'This Is Not A Love Song' and 'Flowers Of Romance' are pop songs with razorblade's under their nails; their defiance is almost child-like. 1984's one-off single 'World Destruction' recorded with Afrika Bambaataa and Bill Laswell invents Prodigy's 'Firestarter' some 12 years early. Lydon's track with Leftfield, 'Open Up', remains (alongside, well, 'Firestarter') the only instance of a 'rock' vocal working with a 'dance' track and thousands have tried. 'Rise' reimagines Talking Heads' angular funk without the glasses-wearing asexuality, while 'Warrior' is, sadly, a little too much like Billy Idol and the dance-mix of 'God Save The Queen' - by Leftfield's Neil Barnes - is actually rubbish, but there is so much here to discover.

John Lydon is 50 next year. That 21-year-old didn't know the half of it.

Rob Fitzpatrick

 
     
   
     
 

Scunthorpe Telegraph, 29th September 2005

The Best of British £1 Notes

This is the first ever compilation dedicated to ex-Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten, alias John Lydon, to mark his 30-year career. After Anarchy in the UK and all that, he went on to form Public. Image Limited, rewriting the rules again with This is not a Love Song and Public Image. Then he had a hit in his own right with Open. All his work is included, along with a new track called The Rabbit Song. Keep snarling!

(7/10) NC

 
     
   
     
 

Shields Gazette, 29th October 2005

John Lydon: The Best Of British £1 Notes (EMI)

FIRST compilation of the Sex Pistols, through Public Image Limited to Leftfield and his solo work. Also available on two CD'S, the second of which contains mixes and extras.

 
     
   
     
 

The Sun, 30th September 2005

JOHN LYDON
The Best Of British £ 1 Notes

2 stars

PERHAPS the truth lies in the title - that there are plenty of extra £1 s in ex-Sex Pistol John's bank account. This is essentially another Best Of PiL album with a smattering of the Pistols most famous (or should that be infamous?) songs thrown in: Anarchy In The UK, God Save The Queen (twice thanks to a sub-standard remix) and Holidays In The Sun. And, of course, there's the fabulous Lydon/Leftfield collaboration Open Up.

There is no question this is all great music. My advice, though, is: Go and get the original albums and hold on to the fact that John Lydon/Johnny Rotten, are two separate musicians in one body.

CS

 
     
   
     
 

Evening Star, 30th September 2005

The Best of British £1 Notes

This is an interesting, if unusual compilation charting his musical career - from the Sex Pistols to Public Image Limited, to his forays into the dance scene as part of Leftfield Lydon. While this showcases his diverse talents, it seems unlikely fans of the old are unlikely to appreciate his new work and vice versa. Which means this is an impressive collection of tracks but I'm not entirely sure who it's aimed at.

 
     
   
     
 

Nuts, 30th September 2005

JOHN LYDON
BEST OF BRITISH £1 NOTES

4 Stars

From the Sex Pistols and PiL to more recent dance tunes, this is an ideal record to stick a candle on your head and pretend you're a birthday cake to.

 
     
   
     
 

The Times, October 1st 2005

The Knowledge

John Lydon
The Best of British £1 Notes (Virgin/EMI)

3 Stars

With a voice capable only of a petulant whine or an irascible caterwaul, Lydon stretched a thin talent a long way. The supercharged pub rock of the Sex Pistols proved too limited for his idiosyncratic charisma, so when the group imploded Lydon seized the opportunity to redraw his sonic blueprint completely. Combining diverse influences such as reggae and Van Der Graaf Generator with his misanthropic wit resulted in some of post-punk's most avant and distinctive music, and led Lydon to collaborate with two of dance's greatest innovators; Afrika Bambaataa and Leftfield.

The Best of British £1 Notes appears in one and two-CD formats (and on DVD), but the former's non-chronological overview does Lydon few favours by offering three Pistols moments yet only Death Disco from the seminal Metal Box. The two-CD version at least includes Careering, Poptones and 1981's Banging the Door among some 12" mixes, but it seems like a pocket-emptying compromise.

MIKE PATTENDEN

 
     
   
     
 

The Telegraph, October 1st 2005 (aka The Sillygraph !)

The Best of British £1 Notes
Virgin/EMI

It's easy to forget that John Lydon's credibility was already shot to pieces long before his dalliances with reality TV. His money-grabbing reunions of the Sex Pistols, his execrable last solo record, 1997's Psycho's Path, and the preceding string of dodgy Public Image Ltd albums saw to that.

From its laboured title downwards, The Best of British £1 Notes only emphasises how useless Lydon has been for nigh-on 20 years. Of course, the career-spanning compilation includes some essential Sex Pistols and early PiL tunes, but anyone still needing these will find better ways to get hold of them.

Andrew Perry

 
     
   
     
 

Morning Star, 1st October 2005

JOHN LYDON
The Best Of British £1 Notes (Virgin/EMI)

Lydon's 30th Year

THIS year marks the 30th anniversary of John Lydon's first stage appearance with the Sex Pistols and this timely compilation brings together all the disparate elements in his long, chequered career. There can be no denying the awesome legendary power that God Save the Queen still manages to emanate and the astonishing Public Image of 1978 unleashes a level of literate combative lyricism and startlingly original music that underpins its standing as a land-mark track in the history of punk.

This is Not a Love Song was a surprise British top five hit in 1984, but, beyond its deliberately irritating repeated title, bore the subtly cynical jibes at the yuppies of the Thatcher years. Many of the punters who mindlessly sang along with the chorus were the very people that Lydon was berating in song. The collection highlights the myriad of musical styles that Lydon has experimented with. There are eerie tribalistic rhythms on Flowers of Romance, out and out rock on Home and Cruel, rap on the fantastic World Destruction, performed as a duet with electro legend Afrika Bambaataa, and the phenomenal techno collaboration with Leftfield, Open Up.

The album is available as a single 20-track CD or as a special edition with an extra 12 tracks, consisting of selected album tracks Poptones and Careering from Metal. Box (1979) still sonically resembling nothing on earth and a patchy assortment of remixes. Despite its daft title, The Best of British £I Notes provides a worthwhile re-evaluation of John Lydon as poet, experimenter, social commentator - as the eco-lament Don't Ask Me clearly testifies - and continual thorn in the side of the complacent and apathetic. The importance of Lydon's contribution to music over the last 30 years can-not be overestimated.

LEE McFADDEN

 
     
   
     
 

Independent on Sunday, 2nd October 2005

John Lydon The Best of British £1 Notes
VIRGIN

5 stars

A bona fide working class intellectual, John Lydon, ne Rotten, is one of popular culture's more important, and least empty, icons. He also has one of rock's most thrilling and least mistakable voices: both in the literal sense (that hectoring, cajoling screech) and the figurative (his vision and agenda). This is the first time that his work with Sex Pistols, PiL and various side projects have been brought together.

There isn't enough Pistols (only three tracks) and the spotlight is shone onto PiL, revealing that in addition to their inventive early years, Lydon has made his fair share of upsettingly directionless mainstream rock since 1987. But that's what the skip button is for.

SP

 
     
   
     
 

Manchester Evening News, 7th October 2005

JOHN Lydon aka Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols releases his first retrospective album this week. The Best of British One Pound Notes covers his work from Anarchy in the UK with the Sex Pistols to Rise with Public Image Ltd and beyond.

I have met John on a number of occasions and found him to be charming, funny, intelligent and totally in your face. The man likes to talk and he still has a lot say. He's still much maligned and misunderstood, and I suppose It's partly his fault. Whether you love or hate him. his contribution to British music is second to none. He is one of our greatest front men. His new-found fame as contestant on I'm A Celebrity,. Get Me Out of Here! is baffling to some. Why did he want to participate?

"Look it was a laugh. I was the Sid James of Jungle... he snorts. When he puts it to you like that, you can't argue. He is now 50 and has no intentions of going away quietly. He is now friends with Alice Cooper who has been a big influence. He tells me tails of Alice on the golf course with the late Bob Hope. "You couldn't have Wished to see a more unlikely coupling on the golf course than.Hope and Cooper. Can you imagine the stories they told each other while walking around the course. It's a pity that John doesn't play golf - he could liven up a dull game.

 
     
   
     
 

Kerrang, October 8th 2005

The Best of British £1 Notes

4 stars

First he said 'Fuck', then he said 'C**t', the he released this.

Punk Godfather and profane anti-celebrity he may be, but John Lydon's greatest musical work lies in Public Image Limited who were so far ahead of their contemporaries in 1979 that trendy young bucks are only just catching up now.

So alongside the expected Pistols tracks included here are definitive post-punk starting points as 'Death Disco' and 'Public Image', money spinning hits in 'Rise' and incendiary techno-punk anthem 'Open Up' (with dance collective Leftfield) and pleasant surprises in his much overlooked late '90s solo work - check out Lydon's 1997 'Psycho's Path', then go watch him cackle at some sharks. He still looks like Steptoe, mind.

Ben Myers

 
     
   
     
 

Music Week, 8th October 2005

John Lydon
The Best Of British £1 Notes (Virgin LYDON 1)

The first compilation dedicated to the music of the acerbic former Sex Pistols singer obviously includes said punk legends' groundbreaking work but also highlights Lydon's always interesting collaborations since then, taking in the work of PIL, Leftfield Lydon, and Time Zone, as well as a couple of solo highlights.

Although the Pistols were described as rebels at the time of Anarchy In The UK and God Save The Queen - both included here - it is interesting to note that, at this distance, although they remain powerful and immensely energetic songs, they seem positively mainstream, insofar as they comply with usual song construction techniques with regular verse/chorus progressions and some tight and entirely musical instrumentation. Lydon has successfully bridged punk, rock and dance, and this is a worthy celebration of his talent, and the man himself even contributes the artwork.

 
     
   
     
 

Metro, 14th October 2005

John Lydon: The Best Of British £1 Notes DVD

EMI, 90mins, £15.99

There's no denying John Lydon's centrality to 1976, the Sex Pistols and the year zero that was British punk. There's also no denying that a lot of the music collected on The Best Of British £1 Notes - a 3D-year career retrospective of his work from the Pistols via PiL to now - has aged rather badly. However, the Pistols, some of PiL and Lydon's Time Zone collaboration with Afrika Bambaataa are enduring classics. The Pistols tracks are studio recordings set to fascinating live footage but in early videos Lydon looks as comfortable as a dog being washed. The footage from the reunion concert in Finsbury Park in 1996 shows Lydon at his feral best. Extras: Live tracks, monitor mixes and discography.

Kevin McCardle

 
     
   
     
 

Belfast Telegraph, 14th October 2005

JOHN LYDON The Best Of British £1 Notes
(Virgin)

3 Stars

With his reinvention as a reality TV celebrity, Lydon may well have ended up as a tabloid caricature of himself, but this career- spanning hits DVD is a timely reminder of just how much good music he has put his name to over nearly 30 years.

It traverses his career in chronological order, starting with videos from the Sex Pistols (Anarchy in the UK and God Save the Queen) and winding up with a track from a rather indifferent 1997 solo album. The filling in this particular sandwich is provided mostly by PIL, who could never hope to match the impact of the Sex Pistols but who skillfully transformed themselves from a scratchy post-punk outfit to a muscular mainstream rock act. The star of the show, of course, was always Lydon, and, by sheer force of personality, he dominates nearly everything here - the video directors do little more than point the camera at him and let him perform, and he rarely lets them down.

As an all-singing, all dancing video experience it lacks a little in variety but Lydon's sneering frontman charisma makes it compulsively watchable most of the time. Also included are his fine collaborations with Leftfield and Time Zone, but the paltry extras extend no further than three songs from the Sex Pistols' cash-in reunions in 1996 and 2002.

 
     
   
     
 

Fife Free Press, 14th October 2005

WE have always had a fascination with the rebels of pop and every decade has its share. The punk era had Johnny Rotten as the godfather and under his own name, John Lydon, The Best Of British £1 Notes (Virgin), covers his best work. Anarchy In The UK and God Save The Queen were groundbreaking but his PIL projects covered a longer period blending rhythmic beats with impudence.

Additionally the DVD has 18 videos, three live performances and 2 rare audio mixes from his colourful career.

 
     
   
     
 

Plymouth Evening Herald, 14th October 2005

Noteworthy album for John Lydon fans

NEVER mind the Sex Pistols - here's John Lydon, The first compilation dedicated to the immensely influential musical career of the former Sex Pistols frontman, The Best Of British £1 Notes, features a comprehensive list of the punk era's most famous tracks.

There aren't many of his musical peers who could boast a back catalogue as strong or diverse as Lydon's. Whether it be with the Sex Pistols. Public Image limited, Leftfield or as a solo artist, he has made some remarkable records, and this single CD standard edition and its companion double CD special edition draw together all the tracks that make Lydon so special.

Anarchy in the UK, Public Image. This Is Not A Love Song and Open Up are just the first four tracks in what is a musical tour de force. Other standout tracks include Holidays In The Sun, Flowers of Romance and the immortal God Save The Queen. Through his work; with the Pistols and PiL right through to his solo work, Lydon has left his unmistakable stamp on everything he has touched, be it through his powerful lyrics, his snarling vocal or its relentless anti melody. He has bridged rock, dance, and of course punk, and has truly left an indelible mark on music of the last 30 years.

Of late, John has been concentrating on his solo work and included on this compilation is new track The Rabbit Song which will delight fans and whet the appetite for more…

 
     
   
     
 

Shropshire Star, 15th October 2005

JOHN LYDON
The Best Of British

3 Stars

Long before Lydon made a fool of himself in the Australian outback, as the lead singer of the Sex Pistols he was the spokesman for a disaffected generation but his genius is also evident in his underrated solo work. Highlights include Anarchy In The UK, Holidays In the Sun, Rise and This Is Not A Love Song.

 
     
   
     
 

Time Out, 19th October 2005

DVD of the week

John Lydon
The Best Of British £1 Notes

4 Stars

Amid this career-trawling 28-year 'best of' it's the two cheap-as-chips Sex Pistols promos and the no-budget early PiL videos that prove to be the revealing and shocking clips here. With the exception of 'Rise', most late-era PiL was crap, although the videos get agreeably bonkers as they go on. Still, like the 2-CD set that this accompanies, it's a fine package for one of the greatest living Englishman.

John Lewis

 
     
   
     
 

Doncaster Free Press, 20th October 2005

JOHN LYDON
The Best Of British £1 Notes

Rotten, 'Lydon - call him what you like (and generations of clean-up campaigners have) there's no ignoring the so-called Godfather of Punk. This album draws together all his finest moments from the Sex Pistols, through Public. Image Ltd and onto his solo material and Leftfield collaboration. A quarter of a century's worth of history in a nutshell.

Best Track: Public Image - sharp as it ever was. (8/10).

 
     
   
     
 

Classic Rock, October 2005

Johnny Be Good

JOHN LYDON
THE BEST OF BRITISH £1 NOTES

He's a Celebrity… but he hasn't forgotten his edgy musical roots.

With John Lydon's metamorphosis from universal pariah to national treasure, his contribution to the development of alternative music seems to have been almost forgotten. When he emerged as an unlikely favourite on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, you knew - upon seeing the erstwhile Johnny Rotten scrabbling for food tokens while being goosed by ostriches - that listening to the Sex Pistols could never be the same again.

But, just when you thought that Lydon's best efforts were being focused on the welfare of chimps, he's returned to the fray with a dazzling and timely reminder of a multi-faceted career of sonic insurrection. Few would've looked unkindly on Lydon if he'd spunked his creative wad with the Pistols, for here was a band that genuinely changed everything, not just musically, but sociologically. Listen again to Anarchy In The UK, God Save the Queen, Pretty Vacant, Holidays in the Sun, and wallow in vicarious passion.

Lydon went on to confound all his critics and, crucially, his core audience with Public Image Ltd. Public Image was a statement of intent, before Lydon delivered his fully-formed masterpiece with PiL's second album Metal Box; a series of cross-generic soundscapes (Death Disco, Careering, Poptones), where dub reggae and Krautrock blend naturally rather than collide. PiL both defied musical categorisation and refused to stand still as tangential shift (Rise) followed tangential shift (Flowers Of Romance). Lydon also made canny collaborative matches, with Afrika Bambaataa (Time Zone's World Destruction), Leftfield (Open Up), and continues to challenge expectations (the electronica of 2005's The Rabbit Song).

John Lydon; a national treasure and, like many great Englishmen, reassuringly Irish.

Ian Fartnam

 
     
   
     
 

Big Cheese, October 2005

JOHN LYDON
'The Best Of British £1 Notes'

3 stars

Sex Pistol Jungle Johnny Still Means It Maaan!

It's been a strange old trip for Johnny Lydon from a council house in Finsbury Park to property magnate in Los Angeles, taking in 'I'm A Celebrity..', Sex Pistols reunions and television shows about bugs and sharks along the way. Only 2 things have kept him relevant though- his razor sharp sarcasm and his ability to occasionally hit the right note on the music front.

This 32 track, 2 CD Best Of is dated from 1976-2005, but that's a rip off. His first new track in nearly 8 years that's included here, 'The Rabbit Song' sounds like it was knocked up in 4 minutes and is complete rubbish. But elsewhere there are a few gems. The Pistols' 'Anarchy...', 'God Save The Queen' and 'Holidays In The Sun' still sound incredible, while the Public Image tracks work because Lydon always chose great musicians to work with, 'Public image', 'Pop Tones' and the mighty 'Rise' all stand the test of time. Lydon's decision to later work with Afrika Bambaataa on 'World Destruction' and Leftfield on the techno punk of 'Open Up' show he's had a shrewd plan all along. So overall, a patchy old path and we really didn't need the dance mix of 'God Save the Queen', but Lydon remains, if anything, interesting. I wonder what his next move is?

EI Prez

 
     
   
     
 

Q Magazine, November 2005

Rebel Yell
The Highs and lows of a punk icon

The Best Of British £1 Notes CD

3 Stars

FOLLOWING HIS YEARS as ridiculed cartoon, John Lydon is cool again. This is partly due to swearing a lot on live television. But also because a new generation of post-punk influenced bands have made PiL hip again. This status is intriguing. Lydon has professed more affinity with genres deemed untouchable: scary prog, bizarre metal and disco. For better and for worse, bad taste is his thing.

Available as either a 20-track single-disc or 32-track 2CD set, this first ever career-long retrospective jolts between the Sex Pistols, early PiL's psychodrama and the later line-up's FM radio pomp. Throw in one-offs such as Leftfield & Lydon's Open Up and the 1985 Time Zone single World Destruction with Afrika Bambaataa and there's nearly a case for Lydon as consistent singles artist. But then, after weirdly skimping on 1979's Metal Box period, come real affronts to good taste: god awful husks such as 1987's The Body and 1990's Don't Ask Me. Yes, he invented punk and post-punk. But, he could also royally suck.

WITH PIL'S INITIAL flush more evident, the superior special edition reveals how, after producing a great run of singles with the Pistols, he then best suited winding, incantatory epics such as 1986's euphoric Rise (his last gasp of greatness) or the PiL pinnacle Death Disco. Over seven terrifying minutes, Lydon accompanies Jah Wobble's stutter-funk bass and Keith Levene's guitar shards by staring out his mother's cancer-related descent towards death.

So this strange and spasmodic mix sees the music-snob saying, "the early stuff is the best" as being spot on. Weirdly, a new track, The Rabbit Song, closes the single disc version. A minor burst of ragga, it is - rarely for Lydon - neither great nor awful Which, in itself, is kind of disappointing.

STEVE LOWE

Q 'Essential Downloads' - Rise - PiL

Virgin's upcoming retrospective confirms he was the sneering, anarchic voice of not one, but two great bands. This is a spleen-venting PiL anthem from the mid-'80s. Available On: The Best Of British £1 Notes (Virgin double album).

 
     
   
     
 

Q Magazine, November 2005

From the Pistols to solo: the hits, the misses, the sneering.

The Best Of British £1 Notes DVD

Main Feature: 3 Stars
Extras: 2 Stars

Infamous most recently for his appearance on I'm A Celebrity... , Get Me Out Of Here!, John Lydon has always made for compulsive viewing, as this career-overview package (and companion to the CD reviewed on page 134) proves. On two 1977 Sex Pistols promos, the 21-year-old Lydon plays Johnny Rotten like a pantomime villain. Afterwards, especially when fronting Public Image Ltd, he maintained a winningly absurdist approach to video making. A pity, then, that the bonus live footage of the Pistols' 1996 reunion shows reveals a tragicomic figure finally succumbing to the nostalgia market.

Extras: Three live tracks from the Pistols reunion, and mixes of two PiL classics.

PAUL ELLIOTT

 
     
   
     
 

Mojo, November 2005

The Best Of British £1 Notes DVD

4 stars

Seldom has a pop audience been so ferociously interrogated by a piercing glare or a raised eyebrow.

This retrospective is the first to bring together Pistols, PiL and solo Lydon, with a few live performances added for good measure. PiL's high-water mark came not so much with the much-lauded early work, but in 1986 with the brilliant single Rise, still his best post-Pistols' song, and a genuinely excellent video to boot, depicting the plight of the cultural and economic outsider. The '90s solo Lydon brought us the successful collaboration with dance act Leftfield, Open Up, and the seaside postcard pastiche of the underrated Sun, but it's the original Sex Pistol Steptoe-meets-Richard III persona for which he will be best remembered. 1976's Anarchy In The UK, featuring a ludicrously jiving clean-cut Glen Matlock and drummer Paul Cook's 'I hate Pink Floyd' T-shirt, is the stuff of legend.

David Buckley

 
     
   
     
 

Mojo, November 2005

The Best Of British £1 Notes CD

From God Save The Queen to the new Rabbit Song, this 2-CD collection of phlegm-flecked music hall has many ribald treats, but latter period PiL still sounds rotten.

KC

 
     
   
     
 

DVD Monthly, November 2005

The Best of British £1 Notes DVD

Rotten to the Core

Movie Info
Director - Various
Distributor - EMI/Virgin
Audio - Dolby Digital 2.0
Visuals - 16.9 Anamorphic Widescreen

Oh heroes of the 70’s where art thou now? Most have managed to demean themselves in some way (Bowie in Labyrinth and the 'Dancing In The Street' video spring to mind) or gone the way of Elvis. Or Sid Vicious. And I know what you're thinking, I'm not about to claim that after last year's 'I'm' A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!' Lydon has entirely escaped occasional public embarrassment.

Appearing on the show put him on a level with the likes of Christine Hamilton and Jordan after all, and was probably a mistake. It's just that in purely musical terms, the Godfather of British Punk is probably one of the few to escape the turbulent waters of the 80’s and 90’s with his credibility largely intact. But never mind the bollocks. Here's Johnny himself in a DVD compilation that neatly encompasses his career thus far. Hard as it to believe now, Lydon was apparently a quiet bookish sort until Malcolm McLaren recruited him as the frontman for The Sex Pistols in 1976. Having been afflicted by spinal meningitis in childhood, the eight-year-old Lydon had spent the best part of a year slipping in and out of comas but following a full recovery, the only obvious adult legacy of the disease was the piercing stare he frequently used to terrifying (and comic) effect.

Lydon's years as a harbinger of anarchy in The Sex Pistols are well documented and adequately here with a few choice samples from that era, including the celebrated Number One That Never Was 'God Save The Queen' (a song that so provoked the ire of one demented royalist, that he stabbed Lydon's hand, permanently disabling two of his fingers). Probably less renowned are Lydon's years with Public Image Limited and it's his video performances with the band from the early 80’s to the early 90’s which make up the beef of the material here. Emerging intact from the ashes of the Sex Pistols, Lydon initially attempted to bring together elements of punk, reggae, dub, sonic music and rock n' roll and the early tracks are certainly interesting experimental stuff, ranging from the very Pistols-'esque 'Public Image' to 'This Is Not A Love Song'. ‘Rise’, meanwhile, is probably the most famous PIL song of all (featuring the memorably confused assertion 'I Could be wrong, I could be right') finally providing a mellower sound to complement Lydon's harsh vocal style.

The later videos too (though still recognisably belonging to the 80’s are entertaining in themselves, often giving full rein to Lydon's comic persona, 'The Body', in particular, casts Lydon as an insane surgeon overseeing a hospital overrun by stumbling, potentially zombie-like patients. It's like 'Dawn of the The Dead' meets 'Carry On Nurse'. At one point, Lydon's face appears at the bottom of a loo being flushed, although very brief scenes of intravenous heroin use were enough to secure a ban at the time [JL.Com: That's not true, she's clipping her toenails, not shooting up!].

But by the early 90's, despite finding an appreciative audience in the US with an increasingly mainstream guitar-based sound, the writing was on the wall for Public Image limited. The post-PIL 'Open Up' in which Lydon performs with Leftfield, provides a return to John's punk origins - "the human race is becoming a disgrace" - and an anti-nuclear stance more common to videos from 1983 than 1993 [JL.Com: They are confusing 'World Destruction with 'Open Up'].

Only in the most recent video, 'Sun', from 1997, does Lydon come perilously close to embarrassing himself. Capering around amidst a sea of naughty holiday postcards, Lydon was probably attempting to capitalise on the Britpop glorification of the tawdry aspects of working class life. But watching ageing Lydon larking around dressed as a vicar isn't a particularly edifying sight and it's easy to see why he might have been keen for a Pistols re-launch.

Nevertheless, with a host of live performances, including those from the late 90's Sex Pistols comeback, this is a fine package, and if nothing else suggests Lydon's career is ripe for a critical re-evaluation.

CHRIS HALLAM

Final verdict
Movie 7 Extras 7

 
     
   
     
 

Zero, November 2005

JOHN LYDON
THE BEST OF BRITISH £1 NOTES
VIRGIN

3 stars

Ol' John's had a colourful career. First fronting The Sex Pistols, and then doing whatever the hell he felt like with Public Image Limited, Leftfield, Time Zone and under his own moniker. Here, spread over two discs, is a fairly thorough overview of it all. On CD1, 20 tracks covering all the various journeys he has made, while CD2 is for the devotee, with its various remixes and suchlike. Granted, Lydon is not to everyone's taste, but he's responsible for a large number of the bands you love (via The Pistols - represented by Anarchy in The UK, God Save The Queen and Holidays In The Sun) picking up their instruments.

He's also the perfect example of how to do what the fuck you want. His PiL stuff is hit and miss, but that's not the point. He's to be applauded for walking his own path and producing the music that got him off rather than pandering to the masses. There are those who don't have time for him, not that he's going to give a shit about that, but they're the ones missing out. Public Image, Rise, Don't Ask Me, Warrior, Cruel (all PIL), World Destruction (Time Zone) and The Rabbit Song (the album's token new track) are all great songs which you dismiss at your peril. They've got wit, style and killer choruses, and bucket loads off fun - which is something seriously lacking from a lot of bands these days.

KJ

 
     
   
     
 

Uncut, November 2005

JOHN LYDON
The Best Of British £1 Notes VIRGIN / EMI

4 stars

HAVING SEEN HIM URINATE on the shoes of pop convention for the past 30 years, it's unnerving to be confronted, finally, with a career-spanning two-disc John Lydon best-of. Did he really fight the Punk Wars for this? Stranger still, it turns out this aural equivalent of the gold watch comes with the full blessing of the grizzled class warrior of Finsbury Park, having provided the artwork, new track 'The Rabbit Song" and, presumably. the daft title.

But then John Lydon has always been a mass of contradictions: a Van Der Graaf Generator obsessive who rid the world of flares with the Pistols; a nihilist who paved the way out of the post-punk wilderness with PiL: a savage opponent of privilege who chin-wagged with royal correspondent Jenny Bond on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

None of which can alter the satanic allure of these recordings. Even now, opener 'Anarchy In The UK' sounds like the most disturbing debut ever, while the Sex Pistols singles scattered throughout the 32 tracks on the two-disc edition still see the with a menace way beyond rock's rulebook. Those returning to the PiL of Metal Box for the first time since Thatcherism will also be taken aback: Lydon sounds barely sane, his vocals beamed in from punk-rock purgatory on 'Poptones'. while Keith Levene spins ghostly glissandos around lyrics about "driving through the forest in a Japanese car".

Such phantom power wanes as the years roll by, and the fact that only eight of the tracks on 'The Best Of British...' were recorded in the past 15 years suggest a talent in freefall when divorced from the services of a sympatico guitarist. However, if Leftfield/Lydon's techno-punk squawker 'Open Up' suggests his best days are receding into the distance, diehards will at least find succour in the bonkers breakbeats of brand new final track 'The Rabbit Song': "Of course I'm still at it/Everybody's at it/Let it be the rabbit/That I can still 'ave it!" he wails, bless.

A grand finale but, thankfully, by the sounds of it, not a goodbye.

PAUL MOODY

 
     
   
     
 

Bass, November 2005

John Lydon: The Best Of British £1 Notes

Lydon, as the angry frontman better known as Johnny Rotten in the Sex Pistols, has certainly had a successful career compared to his fellow band members. Forming PiL and then working as a solo artist he has confused all attempts at pigeonholing his style. He's John Lydon - that's it. This compilation covers the Pistols, PiL and solo career eras from 1977 to date and highlights for bassist's include the PiL tunes such as 'Death Disco' featuring the dub bass of Jah Wobble, and the chanting hypnosis of 'This is Not a Love Song' and 'Rise: A DVD version is also available.

 
     
   
     
 

The Word, November 2005

Mr Angry's Greatest Hits

The Best Of British £1 Notes looks back on the career of John Lydon, the 87th Greatest Briton of all time - by Steve Yates

PERHAPS, AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, the nicest compliment we can pay John Lydon is to state that he was almost never mediocre. Out of some 26 tracks (discounting the six remixes) on this double CD compilation spanning the I'm A Celebrity… dropout's career, I counted 14 crackers, ten clunkers and only two betwixt and between.

Lydon was destined not be dull. Though he couldn't sing, showed little interest in literature and was a self-confessed "ugly fucker", his mother swore in Fred and Judy Vermorel's 1978 book The Sex Pistols that his school's careers office computer foretold his subsequent calling. Of course, it couldn't predict that the first three years of his recording career would see him write songs about anarchy, fascist monarchy, the Berlin Wall, musical divorce and his mother's agonising death from cancer and take them all into the upper reaches of the singles chart (besides Anarchy In The UK, whose relatively lowly chart position of 38 belies both its influence and EMI's mid-release loss of bottle).

Few artists have challenged the limits of what rock songs could be, or be about, like Lydon, while surely none tested the limits of their fans' tolerance like him. Years before he reformed the Sex Pistols for the traveling two-fingered salute that was the Filthy Lucre tour, he'd sacked, one by one, the most innovative group of its era in Public Image Ltd, then toured under that same name with what he gleefully described as a "Holiday Inn band", performing Anarchy.. to people who'd assumed cartoon punk expired with The Exploited, while his single, the brilliant This Is Not A Love Song, taunted rock's leftist orthodoxy with "I'm going over to the other side... Big business is very wise/I'm inside free enterprise", with Lydon letting it be known in press interviews that he was doing very nicely, thank you, courtesy of some judicious real estate investment.

The last good Lydon album, er, Album (unless you own it on cassette or CD in which case it was called Cassette or CD), began life as an April Fool in the NME, which printed in 1981 that Ginger Baker, Cream drummer and one of many punk antichrists, had joined Public Image Limited. Four years later he did, alongside Ryuichi Sakamoto and Steve Vai, for a record that rehabilitated heavy rock while all around was jangly Smiths-inspired 'pure pop'.

But for all their gig riots and post-modernist packaging, PiL's achievement was more than simple antagonism. While the Pistols' highlights still sound glorious (God Save The Queen, Holidays In The Sun and Anarchy... all stand up to be counted here, though Pretty Vacant is a baffling omission), they're remembered as much for what they did, said and wore as what they sang. Not so PiL. You could launch a new Chinese Revolution with today's legion of Gang Of Four imitators, but no one has ever come close to capturing Public Image Limited's sound; the way Keith Levene's guitar echoes Edward Scissorhands making merry with the face of rock history, or Jah Wobble plays like a free jazz bassist dabbling in dub. Some albums slip in and out of favour, but there's never been a time since its release in November 1979 when Metal Box has been anything less than staggering, pointing rock beyond its old confines, embracing dub, disco and white noise. (May I, in passing, nominate the period from mid-October to mid-December '79, which also saw the release of London Calling, Unknown Pleasures, Setting Sons and the debuts of The Specials and Madness, as the most golden 61 days in the history of British albums, with Metal Box jostling with The Specials to be the blingingest of them all? Bliss was it then to be alive...).

Of course, Lydon couldn't survive the departures of such singular talent as Wobble and Levene, since when it's been mostly dreck, with the late-'8os albums attempting a radio-friendly big rock sound with tentative dance beats. Open up, his collaboration with Leftfield (which is included here), shows where he should should've been going. But Rabbit Song, the much heralded token new track, revisits the anti-rock invention of early PiL, with sparse electro-dub sonics and off-the-peg lyrics. Careering it ain't, but in a world in which Maximo Park and Bloc Party are Mercury Prize-nominated Lydon can still sound as sharp as rock's notional cutting-edge. Not bad for a self-confessed "ugly fucker" who can't sing.

The Best Of British £I Notes is on EMI

 
     
   
     
 

Zero, December 2005

JOHN LYDON The Best Of British £1 Notes DVD
2 Stars

VIRGIN

I guess you have to be a really dedicated fan to want to sit through over an hour's worth of promotional videos. Personally, I tend to stick these DVD's on and then wander around the house for a bit before realising I have an album or two and putting that on instead. In this instance, I made an exception and flicked through for a bit first, and then just skipped to the songs I actually wanted to see.

For the devotee, you have pretty much all of Lydon's promos (including a smattering of Pistols classics), plus three live Pistols tracks from their recentish return to performing.One for the avid collector only.

KJ

 
     
   
     
 

BBC.co.uk, December 2005

John Lydon - Best Of British £1 Notes
(Virgin)

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.

Reviewer: Daryl Easlea

 
     
   
     
 

Daily Mirror, 23rd December 2005

John Lydon - Best Of British £1 Notes
(EMI)

ROCKING AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE
MUSIC GIFTS ROUND-UP

John Lydon's The Best Of British £1 Notes is proof that there was life before the King Of The Punks opted for a spell in the celebrity jungle. This collection embraces his work with PIL and Leftfield, and includes a glorious handful of Sex Pistols tracks for good measure.

 
     
   
     
     
 
     
     
 

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