[[quoteright:200:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Public_Image_ltd__3595.jpg]]

Public Image Ltd. ([=PiL=] for short) are a PostPunk band (and possibly an UrExample of the genre/aesthetic) formed by John Lydon in 1978 after his departure from the Music/SexPistols, a move that freed him to pursue his interest in experimental music, dub, prog rock and various other types of music that were ''non grata'' in the world of late 70's PunkRock that the Pistols had helped cultivate. The group has gone through a bewildering range of changes of [[RevolvingDoorBand personnel]] and [[NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly musical styles]], and occasional hiatuses, and at this point effectively consists of [[FaceOfTheBand Lydon]] and whoever else is in the band at the moment.

The group has at various points included, among others, Jah Wobble and Keith Levene (founder members), [[Music/{{Cream}} Ginger Baker]], Steve Vai, and Music/{{Magazine}}'s John [=McGeogh=].

The band split in 1992, and Lydon attempted a solo career (that only resulted in a single album, ''Psycho's Path'', which bombed) and then reunited The Music/SexPistols. In 2009, Lydon reunited [=PiL=] with a lineup consisting of Lydon, former members Lu Edmonds and Bruce Smith, and multi-instrumentalist Scott Firth. A new album, ''This is [=PiL=]'', was issued in May 2012.

Studio discography:
* ''First Issue'' (1978)
* ''Metal Box'' (1979)
** ''Second Edition'' (1980) (reissue of ''Metal Box'' without the elaborate packaging)
* ''The Flowers of Romance'' (1981)
* ''This is What You Want...This Is What You Get'' (1984)
* ''Album'' (1986, also called ''Compact Disc'' and ''Cassette'' depending on the format)
* ''Happy?'' (1987)
* ''9'' (1989)
* ''That What is Not'' (1992)
* ''This is [=PiL=]'' (2012)

!!Tropes:

* AlbumFiller: [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] for "Fodderstompf":
-->"We only wanted to finish the album with the minimum amount of effort
--> Which we are now doing very successful-ly"
* AlternativeRock
* AntiLoveSong: Averted with [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aumejrcEHs "This Is Not A Love Song"]], which is more of a double-edged TakeThat at the music biz ''and'' fans accusing Lydon of selling out. Probably.
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: Some of the band's members gained this reputation, not helped by an UrbanLegend that alleged one of them tried to set Music/TheFall's drummer Karl Burns on fire during a recording session.
* DoubleMeaningTitle: The title ''Second Edition'' fits this trope on several levels. It's the group's second album, it's the second edition of the album (originally released as a set of 12" singles in a metal film canister as ''Metal Box''), and it's the second edition of the band itself (with original drummer Jim Walker replaced by a variety of session players).
* EpicRocking:
** ''First Issue'': "Theme" is 9:13, and "Fodderstompf" is 7:46.
** ''Metal Box''/''Second Edition'': "Albatross" is 10:32, and "Poptones" is 7:46.
** B-side "Home is Where the Heart is" is 7:34.
** ''Album'': "Ease" is 8:09.
* ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin: ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Album_(Public_Image_Ltd_album) Album]]'', aka ''Compact Disc'' or ''Cassette'', depending on the format.
* FlowersOfRomance: The TropeNamer. John Lydon named the song after a band his sometime friend Sid Vicious had led before joining the Music/SexPistols, which itself took its name from Baudelaire's ''Les Fleurs du Mal'' ("the flowers of evil"). "Flowers Of Romance" deals with an imminent breakup:
-->Behind the dialogue
-->We're in a mess
-->Whatever I intended
-->I sent you flowers
-->You wanted chocolates instead
-->The flowers of romance
-->The flowers of romance.
* GreenAesop: [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHKn_gk8WV8 "Don't Ask Me"]]
* GriefSong: "Death Disco", aka "Swan Lake" is about the death of Lydon's mother. This may not be immediately obvious.
* HiddenDepths: People were surprised to find that Johnny Rotten is a fan of ProgRock.
* IAmSong: "Public Image"
* IAmTheBand: Following Levene's expulsion, Lydon took over as de facto band leader and the only constant member.
* InsistentTerminology: Public Image Ltd. isn't a band, it's a communications company.
* ItsBeenDone: Flipper came out with a "generic album" before [=PiL=] did. Flipper released an album called ''Public Flipper Ltd.'' as a TakeThat.
* MadnessMantra: "We only want to be loved" from "Fodderstompf".
** "This is what you want, this is what you get" from "The Order of Death".
* TheManIsStickingItToTheMan: Lydon likes [[PlayingWithATrope playing with this trope]]. A lot.
* MarsAndVenusGenderContrast: [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]] in "Like That" (aka "Just Like A Woman"), with the "Just like a woman/and every man" refrain.
* NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly: ''First Issue'' is fairly straight(ish) punk/new wave, except for two longer, strung-out experimental pieces, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPSGJPg-tCU "Theme"]] and [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tzn3_NEek4M "Fodderstompf"]]. These turned out to be better indicators for the next few albums, especially ''Metal Box'', than any of the more "accessible" tracks. Around ''This Is What You Want, This Is What You Get'', the sound took a turn for the more "commercial", to variable fan-reaction, and has changed again a few times since. Lydon has cited Music/YokoOno, Music/{{Can}}, and Music/VanDerGraafGenerator among his influences.
* NewSoundAlbum:
** ''Flowers of Romance'' dropped the metallic guitars and thick basslines in favour of ''Music/PeterGabriel 3''-inspired percussion and aural chaos.
** ''This is What You Want, This is What You Get'' was a dance and pop record.
** ''Album'' began a more accessible, AlternativeRock era.
** ''This is [=PiL=]'' returns to the Dub and Krautrock-inspired sound of their early records.
* PunnyName: The band name is not just [[DontExplainTheJoke a dig at Lydon's post-Pistols image]] (and [[ViewersAreGeniuses an oblique reference]] to Muriel Sparks' novel ''The Public Image''), but also plays up the "band as corporate entity" angle, also featured in a tendency to HeavyMeta ("Poptones", "Chant", "Death Disco" etc.) and naming records so as to [[LampshadeHanging lampshade]] their status as product (''First Issue'', ''Second Edition'' aka ''Metal Box'', ''Album'')
* PostPunk
* RevolvingDoorBand: Lydon has been the only constant member. PlayedForLaughs with "We are a company" as a justification.
* ReligionRantSong: Heavily featured in the early work ("Religion I", "Religion II", "Annalisa").
* RidiculousProcrastinator: The first lineup of the band had this reputation, much to the exasperation of their record company. Walker once mentioned that Wobble used to call Lydon's flat so often he assumed that Wobble lived far away, until one day Wobble walked into the flat and Walker found out he was actually living a few floors below but was too lazy to actually show up in person.
* {{Sampling}}: A loop of John Lydon singing "no future", taken from the Music/SexPistols' "God Save The Queen", shows up near the end of "Acid Drops". And one extended remix of "The Body" uses the oft-sampled drum machine beat of Schoolly D's "PSK (What Does It Mean?)".
* SelfDeprecation: "We only wanted to finish the album with a minimum amount of effort, which we are now doing very successfully!"
* {{Shout Out}}s: Include ''Literature/TheRimeOfTheAncientMariner'' ("Albatross") and Keats' ''La Belle Dame Sans Merci'' ("No Birds")
* SpokenWordInMusic: Lydon recites the words to "The Room I Am In".
* {{Suburbia}}/StepfordSuburbia: "No Birds"
--> This could be heaven
--> Shallow spreads of ordered lawns
--> I like the illusion, illusion of privacy
--> The careful trees blending so perfectly
--> Bland planned idle luxury
--> A caviar of perfect dignity
--> Life in lovely allotted slots
--> A token nice, a nice constitution
--> A layered mass of subtle props
* TakeThat: It's a band led by Johnny Lydon. A ''lot'' of things and people get on his nerves. The music industry ("This Is Not A Love Song"), religion (see ReligionRantSong), UsefulNotes/{{Seattle}} and its hotels ("Seattle"), Music/LouReed ("Where Are You"), broadsheet newspapers ("Chant"), UsefulNotes/GeorgeHWBush ([[FunWithAcronyms "U.S.L.S.1"]]), intrusive fans ("Banging The Door"). Every so often, for variety, he has [[SelfDeprecation a go at himself]], too. And quite a few songs are {{Take That}}s taken to a level of abstraction where you're definitely sure he's having a go at ''something'' or ''someone'', even if you're not sure exactly what or whom.
* ATouchOfClassEthnicityAndReligion: Something of a running theme, especially in the early work, rather unsurprisingly given Lydon's Irish Catholic London working class background. Expect digs at the Catholic Church (see also ReligionRantSong, above), and the British class system. On ''Metal Box'', "Careering" and "The Suit" come with a side of AmbitionIsEvil, while "No Birds", "Chant" and "Careering" (again) make digs at the middle classes. (From "Chant": "It's not important/it's not worth a mention in ''[[BritishNewspapers The Guardian]]''... the likes of you and me are an embarrassment". From "Careering": "Both sides of the river/there is bacteria".)
** "Careering" is an odd example in that the lyrics have two levels of meaning, as indicated by the dual definition of the title word (working professionally in something vs. wandering aimlessly): One being the class critique, the other being about [[UsefulNotes/TheTroubles the IRA's bombing campaign in Northern Ireland]].
* ViewersAreGeniuses: Quite a few bits, notably the Muriel Spark reference in the band name, and the way "Careering" plays on the double meaning of its title.
* WeUsedToBeFriends: A recurring lyrical theme, even if it seems mostly to be a subtrope of JL's fondness for {{Take That}}s in general ("Disappointed", "FFF" ["Farewell, my Fairweather Friend"][[note]]Towards Keith Levene[[/note]], "Albatross"[[note]]Towards Malcom [=McLaren=][[/note]])

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