For some, the 80s meant New Romantics dollying about on yachts and Club Tropicana where drinks were free. But I turned my back on fun and sunshine.
Instead, I opted for a darker soundtrack of rape (The Boiler by The Special AKA), murder (Frankie Teardrop by Suicide) and doomed corvids (Kill the Great Raven by Snakefinger).
I was a bunch of laughs in the 80s.
Mind you, they were dark times. Someone was dealing heroin from our student flat and I once watched a man inject himself in the foot, having failed to find a decent vein anywhere else on his body. And the food was terrible too. It was illegal to be a carnivore in South London back then and the house speciality was ‘vegetable splat’, which was just as inventive and delicious as its name implies.
Metal Box by Public Image Ltd fitted right in to my 80s: John Lydon’s dirty inky fuzzy howl against the spartan soundscape driven by Jah Wobble’s visceral bass.
My copy of Metal Box is battle scarred. The round metal film canister is covered in rusty concentric rings left by cups and glasses and there are traces of ancient candlewax around the rim. The PiL logo in the centre is a paler shade of silver from where a lamp used to stand on top of it.
The logo was created by photographer Dennis Morris. He abbreviated the band’s name to PiL, then played on the PiL/pill association with a logo designed to look like an aspirin, with a split down the middle. The difference, he said, is that: “This PiL gives you a headache.”
Although the exterior of my copy is beaten up, the vinyl inside is pristine. And if the lyrics were unremittingly bleak at the time, today I feel like cutting them up in a different way.
Riding along on the crest of an albatross
This could be heaven
Blown into breeze.
With apologies to John Lydon. You don’t always have to leave the bones exactly how you found them.