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The Human Condition - Live At The Collegiate Theatre & Live In Europe (1981)


Jah Wobble has always been my favourite (ex-)member of Public Image Limited - in my opinion, it's his departure, rather than Keith Levene's, that scuppered their creative momentum & mortally wounded them as a functioning unit. Though The Flowers of Romance remains a far better record than many folk would still care to admit, there nonetheless exists a yawning chasm at it's vascular pith where Wobble's cyclical bass-lines & questing spirit ought to have been &, fundamentally, the album only triumphs as a reactionary gesture; i.e. as a defeatist admission of Wobble's irredeemable absence.

Whatever his reasons for his ditching PiL - egos, drugs, "stolen" master-tapes - it's worth noting that his solo career was already well under way by the time he jumped ship. His "Dreadlock Don't Deal in Wedlock" 12" appeared very early on, actually preceding First Edition by a few weeks, while the Betrayal album & it's bevy of related 45s were released hot on Metal Box's heels: "It was better than sitting around all the time. When we started my attitude was, 'I really wanna work, I can't understand why we're not working'".


In 1981, after briefly collaborating with Can's rhythm section on the frankly brilliant no-wave dub EP How Much Are They? (he'd continue to work with Holger Czukay on a regular basis thereafter), Wobble hooked up another of PiL's founding directors, Canadian drummer Jim Walker, plus guitarist Dave "Animal" Maltby, with the express intention of performing live, improvising a jarring, dark-edged, & very physical minimalist funk. Naming themselves The Human Condition, their recordings were issued exclusively on cassette ("I like small, contained things - they're more refreshing"), manufactured on the tightest of budgets & duplicated so swiftly that their first release - taped at London's Collegiate Theatre - was allegedly on sale by the end of the gig! ("Great gesture, great idea - if a little pointless".) The follow-up, Live In Europe November 1981, was apparently recorded in Holland though sleeve information is scant at best. A light-bulb evidently flickered on in Wobble's brain at this point: "To my delight, I found that I could record an album in my bedroom for virtually zilch... spend another L100 cutting it before ordering 2,000 pressings at around 35p a shot. I'd pick up the records from the manufacturers & wholesalers & deliver them to various distributors, exporters & wholesalers, as well as specialist shops. I found that I'd come out of it with a good few quid". Hence engaging off-the-cuff solo releases like 1983's Bedroom Album.

Though they received a characteristically lukewarm welcome from the English music press (the same old story...), this short-lived ensemble nonetheless managed to tour throughout Britain, Europe & the U.S.A. before calling it a day in early 1982 - a pertinent indication of Wobble's resolute work ethic & staunch dedication to his craft.

In various interviews over the past decade, Wobble has indicated that Martin Atkins (drummer for PiL, Brian Brain, Ministry, Killing Joke, Nine Inch Nails) had planned to reissue The Human Condition's recordings on his Invisible label. Ten years later... they're both still out of print. (source)

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