tue 25/06/2024

CD: Jah Wobble & Keith Levene – Yin & Yang | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Jah Wobble & Keith Levene – Yin & Yang

CD: Jah Wobble & Keith Levene – Yin & Yang

John Lydon’s former Public Image Ltd colleagues belatedly reunite to take up where they left off

Jah Wobble & Keith Levene's 'Yin & Yang': sweary

It’s been a bumper year for fans of Public Image Ltd. John Lydon took his new version of the band out on the road and issued the This is PiL album. His former PiL colleagues Jah Wobble and Keith Levene reworked the landmark 1979 PiL album Metal Box live, as Metal Box in Dub. Now, the duo have re-cemented their relationship with Yin & Yang, their first new work together since co-writing Gary Clail’s “Beef (How Low Can You Go?)” in 1990.

The motives for these reunions and restatements of ownership are rendered moot by the forceful, and sometimes perplexing, Yin & Yang, an album which will certainly please the initiated and may even convert a few newbies. In the press release, Wobble says “I reunited with Keith a couple of years ago. He was off the smack and keen to play again”. The non-playing interregnum has effected some changes to Levene’s guitar playing. Rather than the borderline atonal style which skittered through and plugged any sonic gaps in the first two PiL albums, it has broadened out, taking on a more rhythmic role.

Much is familiar on (the often sweary) Yin & Yang. Levene’s fractured arpeggios on the satirical “Jags & Staffs” are recognisably his, as is the spidery squall on the instrumental “Back on the Block”, which also features an archetypal rumbling bass from Wobble. Yin & Yang is not solely a revisitation to the pair’s pasts, though, and much of what is new is totally unpredictable. “Strut” meshes stabbing, choppy acoustic guitar with a rolling bass pattern and snappy drums that are almost country; Wobble has looked to Miles Davis by bringing in Sean Corby’s trumpet. But what will attract most attention is their ethereal, wobbly, dub- and Bollywood-inflected version of George Harrison’s “Within You Without You”. Wobble and Levene may be yin to the other’s yang but, based on this, their partnership has a seamlessness which belies the album’s title.

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