June 3, 2009 – 4:13 am

In 1983, Keith Levene left PIL and unofficially released his version of a PIL album.

Click on the panels for a better view or to download artwork.

Commercial Zone: The Keith Levene Guide to being Rotten [Pil Records 1CD]

Commercial Zone was released in the US in November 1983 by the departing Keith Levene. He claimed ownership of the tapes but this was disputed by the rest of the band. A cease and desist letter was sent to Levene to stop further distribution of Commercial Zone. But the album had already crossed the Atlantic to Europe.

This copy comes from a surviving vinyl album of the second pressing. Evidently, PiL’s reputation was such that a second run was required to satisfy demand. But we are not talking about millions, not even hundreds of thousands. According to the Wikipedia, only several hundred copies were pressed in the first run. The subsequent second pressing of Commercial Zone is said to number 30,000. Finally, Virgin Records woke up and took action against Levene to stop further re-pressings. It is uncertain how many of the 30,000 albums were destroyed.

In 2001, Keith Levene explained his actions to Perfect Sound Forever: “I did an independent deal and they pressed up about 30,000 copies. Then, Richard Branson just sent these guys a writ, telling them to put a stop to it. Then I went back to Richard, got some more money to sign off of PiL. I thought I was also signing myself off of Virgin. But what happened was he said ‘Unofficially, you do have the rights to this record in America. But I’m going to tell everybody that you don’t. The only way they can find out different is by taking me to court’.”

This is disputed by the band. PiL drummer Martin Atkins angrily said Levene stole the tapes.  “It’s not supposed to be sold or released anywhere. We own those recordings. I mean Keith didn’t know about half of those songs until he stole the fucking tapes. Tracks like ‘Miller Hi-Life’ he wasn’t even there it was me, Pete Jones, and Bob Miller our sound guy. Who was almost part of the band at that time. That’s where ‘Miller Hi-Life’ came from, well, it’s a beer too… We were experimenting by putting drum kits through synthesisers in 1982. That’s what we did, we experimented.” [as reported at]

While this was going on, PiL had finished the album and renamed it This Is What You Want… This Is What You Get. By the time they released it in July 1984, Commercial Zone had already circulated since November 1983 and hardcore fans could listen to the two different versions.

Commercial Zone was also reviewed by the music magazines of the day. Andy Hurt, writing for Melody Maker said, “This is not a bootleg, this is the real alternative to that other record, a private view of the Public Image, a strictly import-only insight into the way they were.

“This record sets the record straight from the Keith Levene point of view, a collection of original PiL ephemera which puts the tin lid on Levene’s involvement in the band up to the acrimonious parting of the ways last summer. Five of the eight tracks on ‘This Is What You Want…’ appear here in embryonic form, accompanied by one or two Levene works and a couple of apparently unreleased Lydon/Atkins/Levene efforts.”

You can read the rest of the review here.

Why Pil took such a long time to record their followup to 1981’s Flowers Of Romance may explain why Levene left the band and decided to release on his own the tapes he had of sessions that started in May 1982. Levene may have felt the songs were good enough and had commercial potential. The 12-inch Love Song single went to No. 5 in the UK when Virgin released it in September 1983. That might have prompted Levene to release Commercial Zone two months later in November.

With such acrimony and baggage, it is unlikely that an official release of Commercial Zone will come anytime soon. So for ageing punks, music archivists, Rotten fans and busybodies who want to know what the quarrel was about, we offer the unreleased songs ripped from vinyl.  Some vinyl pops and clicks can be heard on this otherwise excellent rip. By the way, it’s not our rip but came via a trade.
- Professor Red

Note: Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (these are high quality MP3s - sample rate of 192 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Side 1:
1. Love Song [OMITTED]
Track 02. Mad Max (aka Bad Life) (5.7MB)
Track 03. Bad Night* (5.4MB)
Track 04. Solitaire (aka Young Brits) (5.0MB)

Side 2:
Track 05. The Slab (aka The Order Of Death) (4.9MB)
Track 06. Lou Reed Pt 1* (5.5MB)
Track 07. Lou Reed Pt 2 (aka Where Are You) (3.9MB)
8. Blue Water [OMITTED]
Track 09. Miller Hi-Life* (3.5MB)

The omitted tracks were officially released on the 12-inch single This Is Not A Love Song in 1983.
* Bad Night, Lou Reed Pt 1 and Miller Hi-Life have never been released in any form, as far as we are aware.

The rest of the songs were re-recorded and re-titled by PIL and released on the 1984 album This Is What You Want… This Is What You Get. Levene renamed Solitaire as Young Brits but PIL retained the original title on their ‘84 album.

John Lydon - vocals
Keith Levene - guitar, synthesizer
Pete Jones - bass
Martin Atkins - drums
Bob Miller - sound effects on Miller Hi-Life

In 1984, after the success of the Love Song 12-inch single, PIL released This Is What You Want… This Is What You Get. This album was a fresh recording made at the Maison Rouge Studios in London late in 1983 and early 1984. Buy it here.

  1. 8 Responses to “THE LOST ALBUM”

  2. What a nice surprise!Thanks for posting this beauty.

    By uncletommy on Jun 3, 2009

  3. Interesting history… anxious to hear it, Thanks for the post Big ‘O’

    By Revolutionarybum on Jun 3, 2009

  4. Thanks for the pil !!! Any more john lydon, pil or sex pistols? More john please!!1

    By deathdisco on Jun 3, 2009

  5. Great stuff! Got any Sex Pistols??

    By Hulkzilla on Jun 4, 2009

  6. Thanks for the great post…. but those two ommitted tracks are not available, and have not been available since 1983… that 12″ single did not stay in circulation very long, so you should not ommitt those tracks.

    By Me on Jun 5, 2009

  7. Lou Reed Pt 2 is a great track like Metal Box era PIL. They played it live in Toronto before Levene split. Levene’s guitar style definitely inspired many post-punk types in the UK (The Edge etc), which the historians seems to forget.

    By Newpower on Jun 7, 2009

  8. That is some wild, wacky stuff.

    By thewaymouth on Jun 12, 2009

  9. 3 links out of 7 are broken

    By mrbelette on Dec 3, 2016

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