Finished reading John Lydon’s Anger is an Energy at the weekend. Had also booked to hear him at the Old Truman Brewery in London last week, but for personal reasons couldn’t make the book tour gig.
About a third through Anger I was thinking that Rotten was much the better read, and biographically the Pistols period is common ground between the two works. Anger is very much in John’s spoken voice – much of it recorded and transcribed it feels (?), whereas I came away from Rotten thinking you could see where he gets his lyrical skills from, since he certainly displays an engaging way with words and their composition. In that respect Anger is much more raw. You get the man and his imperfect human content ranted at you. But you do know who you’re dealing with.
I’m glad I wasn’t put off by the initial impression because Anger does continue to deliver the full story, right up to the abortive JC Superstar project earlier this year. Background to many PiL song lyrics, session musos, instrumentation and band line-ups as individuals, as well as the trajectory of his personal life that led him to settle in LA with Nora, become a US citizen, own a boat and, as his critics will never let him forget, “sell out” to more commercial media projects. Having also done the US living experience I found myself identifying with John’s take on life and human individuals. Like John, the US is much maligned from afar, but both worth getting to know their wider qualities – their aim is true.
Recommended – if you’re prepared for the rough edges. Great index too. I still find myself wondering how anyone who didn’t already love the man and his work would fare if they picked-up Anger is an Energy to read on spec? A painful introduction I’d suspect, but essential reading if you’re already interested.
The PiL collection playing repeatedly on my media player yet again, and looking forward to that lone UK PiL gig in December.