Metal Box

Has any rock album fared worse in the digital era than Metal Box? Public Image Ltd. packaged their 1979 art-punk opus as three twelve-inch 45-rpm vinyl discs in a metal film canister. The sound was massive: Jah Wobble took off from dub to play some of the deepest bass grooves ever heard, Keith Levene slashed at his guitar, and John Lydon wailed like two bats mating in a trash can. Unfortunately, the CD versions sound thin — you can barely hear the bass at all. On MP3, it's even more muffled. But in this vinyl reissue, Metal Box has all its intense sonic impact, from the death-disco of "Albatross," "No Birds" and "Careering" to the soothing synths of "Radio 4." You can also hear how funny Lydon is; he's practically a post-punk Marty Feldman, cackling at his own psychic horrors in "Poptones." Finally, this huge record gets a proper reissue — metal box and all.

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