On November 23rd 1979. Public Image Ltd. aka PIL released their second studio album Metal Box, a seminal album in the history of post-punk, which to some critics is of nearly equal significance to Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures.
The title of the album refers to its original packaging, designed by Dennis Morris, which consisted of a metal 16mm film canister embossed with the band’s logo and containing three 12″ 45rpm records.
Before the metal tin was finalized as the packaging, there was a discussion of the album being released in a sandpaper package that would effectively ruin the sleeve art of any records shelved next to it. That idea would later be used by the Durutti Column for their 1980 Factory Records debut, The Return of the Durutti Column.
The album was the last to featured bassist Jah Wabble, who along with John Lydon and Keith Levene formed the original creative core of the group with was dissolved by 1985’s This Is What You Want… This Is What You Get.
The album had 2 two singles including “Memories”, and the Iconic Swan Lake aka Death Disco, whose alternate version on the LP takes its title the bit from Tchaikovsky’s score that surfaces in Keith Levene‘s guitars during the song.
In his autobiography, Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, Lydon stated that the song was written for his mother, who had died of cancer not long before. “I watched her die,” he also went further to explain in an interview with Select Magazine in 1990. “She was tough, my mum. She asked me to write a disco song for her funeral. This was hardly happy stuff.”