after the box, a wobble in space

john wardle, 1981. unemployed and still drowning in pussy.

Disenchanted with the business model for Public Image Ltd., and itching to dub deeper, John Wardle stepped out alone to record a solo 45 followed by an entire LP, \”The Legend Lives On: Jah Wobble In Betrayal\”; an exercise in the perils of one man\’s ambition to operate as sole trader.

Promptly accused by John Lydon of \’thieving\’ corporate material from the \”Metal Box\” sessions, Wardle was essentially goaded into quitting PIL of his own accord in 1980, leaving Lydon and Levene in a partnership which might have floundered but for the creative focus evident on their co-opted sequel, \”Flowers of Romance\”.

If one employs an objective ear, it would be unfair to dismiss Lydon\’s claims as wholly unwarranted or pernicious. On both the title track and the infectious \”Tales From Outer Space\” – two of this outing\’s strongest tracks – everything from the choppy rhythm to the wavering vocal smacks of \”Metal Box\” era PIL. Having fought his corner in a protracted legal wrangle with Malcolm McLaren over royalties due from his \’leading role\’ as Sex Pistol, it must have appeared to Lydon as tantamount to staking yet another individual claim for creative ownership.

Equally, it can be argued that it was precisely as a consequence of uninhibited cross-pollination that Wardle functioned so successfully as cornerstone in the PIL wall of sound; his innate ability to harness raw Dub sensibility – abetted by Lydon and Levene as the antidote to all things Rotten – and transplant it still beating into an all but mummified rock \’n\’ roll carcass. In hindsight, given Wobble\’s farther forays in eclectic collaboration with all manner of musicians, it seems inevitable that he would eventually have opted to resist containment. With or without the attendant pension and blue chip shares.

JAH WOBBLE: TALES FROM OUTER SPACE from \”The Legend Lives On: Jah Wobble In Betrayal\” LP (virgin) 1980 (UK)


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