Q (3/92, p.78) - 4 Stars (out of 5) - "...a fiendishly sizzling brew of unbridled ferocity and bellicose guitar firepower....a bucketful of melodiously impressive tunes....imperious Lydon vocals..." Entertainment Weekly (3/6/92, pg.58) - "..showcases PiL's brutal version of modern dance rock.." - Rating: A
Public Image Ltd.: John Lydon (vocals); John McGeoch (guitar, programming); Alan Dias (bass, programming, keyboards, background vocals).
Additional personnel: Gregg "J.P." Arreguin (guitar); Tower Of Power Horns (horns); Curt "Kirkee B" Bisquera, Jimmie Wood (drums, percussion, harmonica); Bonnie Sheridan.
Originally released on Virgin Records.
On the surface, THAT WHAT IS NOT is a fairly straightforward "alternative" rock album with some heavy-metal guitar licks added for flavor. It is, however, an aptly named record, featuring John Lydon's patented rants on such topics as drug abuse, governmental abuse of power, and religion.
"Acid Drops," the album's first track, is a relentless, chugging rocker that ends on a crunching sample from the classic Sex Pistols track, "God Save the Queen." "Luck's Up," a preachy anti-drug tract, is rescued by swirls of guitar and an oddly catchy, shouted chorus. Opening on a simple bass and drum line, "God" is the album's standout track, a sarcastic dissection of those who use religion for personal gain. And what PIL record would be complete without an upbraiding from Lydon directed at the critics who willfully misinterpret him? "Think Tank" meets this task on THAT WHAT IS NOT. "Good Things," which ends the album, adds a horn section and soaring, female backing vocals. Barring the expressly political lyrics, Lydon's extremely distinctive warbling, and the odd naughty word, it wouldn't be out of place on Top-40 radio stations.