Saturday, November 12, 2022

RIP Keith Levene

My first guitar hero, at a time when the guitar hero wasn't really a thing.  Keith Levene made unbelievable sounds with his instrument. Took the guitar to new places. So much beauty.

When I interviewed him in 2002, Keith said he thought "No Birds Do Sing" was PiL's peak - his best playing - and he could be right (it's always been a favorite). But there are so many peaks. 

PiL counterfactual: if they'd done 9 other songs like this on the debut album, surely they'd have become instant stadium rock stars. There'd have been no need for U2!  I'm glad they didn't take that path, but it's an intriguing thought - the group that came to destroy rock, make it obsolete, start their career with one of the greatest rock anthems of all time.

Along with the guitar god stuff, Keith was also quite nifty with a Prophet 5 synth.

Talking about Keith and keyboards, how about this almost-solo beauty? He could have done a whole album of this kind of thing and I'd have been very happy.

As PiL's de facto music director, Keith also made some great things without either guitar or synth  (and with Wobble flown the coop too).

I don't think there's any guitar on this one either, so Keith's contribution is probably that beebling synth drone in the background and the EQ on the snares and hi-hats. 

Can't miss this -  "Death Disco" on Top of the Pops is one of a handful of turned-my-world-upside-down-inside-out moments of music on TV (others include "This Charming Man", "Party Fears 2", a T.Rex moment that shook me and that I've written about a couple of times now as a Primal Epiphany... and in a funny way the Rezillos on Top of the Pops singing a song about Top of the Pops) 

Another great PiL teevee moment 

Here's me on Metal Box and PiL as Rock Band. 

And here's my Wire interview with Keith Levene from 2002. 

"I respected my influences enough to never imitate them. That was always important to me. It still is" - Keith Levene