The John Lydon book Anger is an Energy: My life Uncensored (Simon & Schuster) is a runaway text that calls for editorial governance to reign in the meandering 519 pages in to a more feasible publication. This stream of consciousness world of words is too much to handle (unlike the 1993 Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs (Hodder & Stroughton) account). There are many episodes which are worthy of attention but the contradictions, repetition, lectures and ultimately the Rotten rules as to how we should live our lives becomes overbearing.
There are admissions that the author is not easy to get on with but far too often he is painted as the victim and certain claims appear to be a difficult call considering his cantankerous nature. His iconic status, controversial stances and humorous asides are the reason why interest in Lydon has continued. Since 1981 sonically it has all been a bit hit and miss as The Pistols have been reactivated on several occasions for pay days and in essence PIL eventually became just another rock band!
During the halcyon period of 1975-78 as the front man of The Sex Pistols a young Rotten was a hero to disenfranchised youth but public enemy no. 1 to the staid establishment. Lydon then formed Public Image Limited (PIL) and with the aid of some solid support created such groundbreaking records as: First Edition, Metal Box and Flowers of Romance. However, Lydon has also forged a career in other fields such as film, radio and television and his entertaining nature has won over other admirers.
Lydon wants to come across as a nice guy, pacifist and charitable soul who applauds anyone who applauds him. However, there are so many crossed swords that a massive ego has to take control of it all e.g. John states he is an alpha male but he is also the consummate team player (!?!). Henceforth, it is the old Brian Clough adage of we had a chat but decided that my way is best!
There are many interesting tales to be told and for a man who always tells the truth (?) there are also apologies for misconstrued comments or so called statements made to cause a commotion. Nonetheless, a set to with Bloc Party in 2008 is avoided!
There are no doubts that the legacy of Lydon has had a major impact on art, culture, music, fashion and free speech but the braggadocio of our John does expand upon his influence. It is more than annoying that when he is in full flow he is intent on using ‘them’ (like some ignorant football pundit) instead of using the more appropriate ‘those’ or ‘these’. The publishers even state that the Lydon language may be strictly his own but sometimes it does not dovetail with his erudite thoughts.
John outlines an intense affection for his long term partner Nora and his strong feelings towards his family are also clear. He will always have a tear in his eye as regards the demise of his friend Sid Vicious but his allegiance to close pal Rambo is also central to the tale. An adoration for nature and wildlife is powerful as his love of butter!
This text could have been an astounding account of a working class kid struck with meningitis who overcame a number of odds to lead an incredible life of many adventures (even though there have been the obvious peaks and troughs). Sadly, this lengthy Lydon literature falls in to a trap of a Speaker’s Corner attraction that pulls in scores of people but as the diatribe dilutes the audience depletes and head off in search of a new voice!
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