This Is What You Want... This Is What You Get

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This Is What You Want... This Is What You Get
Studio album by Public Image Ltd
Released6 July 1984 (1984-07-06)[1]
StudioMaison Rouge Studios, London, England
LabelVirgin Elektra/Asylum
ProducerPublic Image Ltd
Public Image Ltd chronology
Live in Tokyo
This Is What You Want... This Is What You Get

This Is What You Want... This Is What You Get is a 1984 album by Public Image Ltd. It is the band's fourth official studio album and includes the single "Bad Life" and a re-recorded version of a "This Is Not a Love Song", which had been a No. 5 UK and international hit when released as a single in 1983.

An early version of the album was released in 1983 by founding PiL guitarist Keith Levene as Commercial Zone. The album was then re-recorded after Levene's departure from the band, with no contributions from either Levene or bassist Pete Jones (who contributed to several tracks on Commercial Zone).

The song "The Order of Death" appears in the 1990 science fiction-horror film Hardware and on the soundtrack to the 1999 horror film The Blair Witch Project. It was also featured in the Miami Vice episode "Little Miss Dangerous" and the Mr. Robot episode "eps2.7_init_5.fve". "This is Not a Love Song" appears in the film Waltz With Bashir. The line "This is what you want... This is what you get" appears in both "Bad Life" and "The Order of Death".

Track listing[edit]

All songs by John Lydon, Keith Levene, and Martin Atkins except * by John Lydon and Martin Atkins

1."Bad Life"5:15
2."This Is Not a Love Song"4:12
4."Tie Me to the Length of That*"5:17
5."The Pardon*"5:19
6."Where Are You?"4:18
8."The Order of Death"4:59

Five songs on This Is What You Want...This Is What You Get are re-recordings of tracks which originally appeared on Commercial Zone: "Bad Life" (originally titled "Mad Max"), "This Is Not a Love Song" (originally titled "Love Song"), "Solitaire" (entitled "Young Brits" on the second pressing of Commercial Zone), "The Order of Death" (originally titled "The Slab"), and "Where Are You?" (originally titled "Lou Reed Part 2"). Four songs from Commercial Zone, "Bad Night", "Lou Reed Part 1", "Blue Water" and "Miller Hi-Life", were not re-recorded for This Is What You Want...This Is What You Get (although a remixed version of "Blue Water" was included as the B-side on the "This Is Not a Love Song" 12" single). Songs on This Is What You Want...This Is What You Get which did not appear in any form on Commercial Zone are "Tie Me to the Length of That", "The Pardon" and "1981", and are the only songs on the album which do not credit Keith Levene as a co-writer.

Track by track commentary by the band[edit]

"Bad Life"
John Lydon (1984): "It was originally 'Bad Life', then it went to 'Mad Max'. There were two sets of lyrics, see, for the same song. Well, things got a bit haywire but we were going to put out the same song with different lyrics as a- and b-side [of the 'Bad Life' single]. But that never came to pass."[2] "We gave [Keith Levene songwriting] credit for that but we'd sacked him before the album was even started. You know, it was just on good faith. Many of the songs were written before he quit, but his participation in all honesty was zero."[3]
"This Is Not a Love Song"
John Lydon (1992/99): "At the time people were saying that I'd joined big business and become a bourgeois shit. So I thought the best way of tackling this would be to pump out a song saying 'That's exactly what I am!' Tongue firmly in cheek. And that kind of stopped that nonsense – so it worked."[4] "'This Is Not A Love Song' was a sort of response to that constant request from the record company for those HITS. Someone said 'Why don't you write a love song?' Ha, I said, love song – ehh, well, this is not a love song!"[5]
"Tie Me to the Length of That"
John Lydon (1992): "That was about being born [...] I don't know why they slap their bottoms, I think it's enormously cruel. It might have influenced me, is what I'm trying to say. Maybe they slapped the wrong end, they couldn't tell my arse from my head!"[4]
Martin Atkins (2009): "Things like 'Tie Me to The Length of That', we just jammed. John played this thing that was like a cross between a mellotron and an electric organ, and we got some great sounds out of it. He played this walking, ever changing bassline and I drummed to it, and I felt that we were just totally connected at that point – every time he changed I was there with him, I'd change and he'd be there."[6]
"The Pardon"
John Lydon (1999): "I was just saying something about most people's lack of desire for change. I like change, but not just for change's sake."[5]
"Where Are You?"
John Lydon (1992) "[Working with session musicians], there's no give and take in that. It's just me giving orders and them receiving them. There was no feedback. If I had a crap idea, the crap idea would go on to vinyl almost directly!"[4]
Martin Atkins (2001): “'1981', that went on the 'This Is What You Want' album, was written for The Flowers of Romance [...] It's from 1981, that's what John was singing about."[7]

Related tracks[edit]

"This Is Not a Love Song" (Club Mix)
Martin Atkins (2001): "I really thought the 'Plastic Box' could have really been a great thing for the fans, it didn't have to be shit. I think really all that's on 'Plastic Box' that's a different mix is the version 'This Is Not a Love Song'."[7]

Links with the film Copkiller[edit]

PiL was supposed to score the soundtrack for the 1983 suspense film Copkiller, starring Harvey Keitel and John Lydon, who worked on the material with his band mates Keith Levene and Martin Atkins (over the phone, by long distance).[10]

In early November 1982 PiL announced the imminent release of a new single, Blue Water, and a six-track mini album, You Are Now Entering a Commercial Zone, on their new label, which was supposed to release the unused music for Copkiller. This did not happen, with the band instead continuing to record a full-length album at Park South Studios.[10]

In mid-1983, in PiL's absence, Keith Levene took the unfinished album tapes and did his own mix. He then flew over to London and presented them to Richard Branson as the finished new PiL album for Virgin Records: Commercial Zone. For his part, John Lydon decided to completely abandon the tapes and re-record the whole album from scratch with session musicians. This new version of Commercial Zone became This Is What You Want... This Is What You Get in 1984.[10]

"The Order of Death" is a reference to the film Copkiller, also known as The Order of Death. The line "This is what you want... This is what you get", which gives title to the album, appears in the film.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic2/5 stars[11]
Robert ChristgauC+[12]

The album was seen as a step down from the band's efforts. Pitchfork Media named the album "maligned but salvageable".[13] Allmusic said the album as "the most tentative and least powerful of PiL's recordings."[14]



Additional Personnel[edit]

  • Colin Woore – guitar
  • Louis Bernardi – bass
  • Richard Cottle – keyboards
  • Gary Barnacle – brass, keyboards



  • "This Is What You Want... This Is What You Get" briefly entered the UK Albums Chart, where it stayed for 2 weeks and reached No. 56 on 21 July 1984.[15]
  • The single "Bad Life" briefly entered the UK Top 75, where it stayed for 2 weeks and reached No. 71 on 19 May 1984.[15]


  1. ^ United States Copyright Office website
  2. ^ Kathi Gelona: John Lydon Interview (The Current, Washington DC, October 1984)
  3. ^ Cary Darling: “Johnny Rotten – Tired Of The Clash, Tired of Punk And Tired Of You!” (BAM 10 August 1984)
  4. ^ a b c Neil Spencer: “Public Image Limited” (Volume Three, May 1992)
  5. ^ a b John Lydon liner notes (Public Image Ltd.: “Plastic Box” compilation, Virgin Records, 1999)
  6. ^ Phil Strongman: "John Lydon’s Metal Box – The Story Of Public Image Ltd." (Helter Skelter, 2007, page 138)
  7. ^ a b Scott Murphy: "Martin Atkins Interview" ( website December 2001)
  8. ^ [1] on: Public Image Ltd.: “Bad Life” 12 inch single (Nippon Columbia, Japan, released December 1984)
  9. ^ [2] on: Public Image Ltd.: “Plastic Box” (Virgin Records, March 1999, titled “This Is Not A Love Song (12" Remix))
  10. ^ a b c Fodderstompf, Fodderstompf: PiL Fansite Archive – Order Of Death
  11. ^ This Is What You Want... This Is What You Get at AllMusic
  12. ^ Robert Christgau. "Robert Christgau: CG: Public Image Ltd". Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b website

External links[edit]