Q - 4 Stars (out of 5)
CMJ (1/5/04, p.26) - Ranked #10 in CMJ's "Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1989"
Public Image Ltd.: John Lydon (vocals); John McGeoch (guitar); Allan Dias (bass); Bruce Smith (drums, percussion, programming).
Producers: Stephen Hague, Public Image Ltd., E.T. Thorngren.
Recorded at Manor Studio.
Originally released on Virgin Records.
Not too surprisingly, 9 is Public Image Limited's ninth album. It opens with a trio of excellent songs--"Happy," "Disappointed," and "Warrior"--all of which seem to suggest a looser, more fluid, and more colorful (if the cover art is any indication) band. In typical John Lydon fashion, the first song questions the trend-followers, the second is about people who let you down, and the third asserts, "This is my land, I'll never surrender." Slashing guitars rise above the dense sound of "Worry," a song that serves as a kind of counterpoint to "Happy."
"Like That" is the result of PIL's experiments with dance music, but is probably too angular and jerking to accommodate any sort of dancing. As Lydon vows to battle on, "Armada" accompanies his vocal acrobatics (supported here by a backing chorus) with casually aggressive guitar. By turns bitter, aggressive, and confident, the always-dynamic 9 is a showcase for PIL as a powerhouse band. It is an achievement to which other bands should aspire.