All Hits All The Time: Joe Sixpack's Favorite Rock'n'Roll Records - Letter "X"

Joe Sixpack Reveals
A Few Cherished Albums

Hey, welcome to my "guide" to a few of my favorite rock and pop records. This isn't a definitive list, by any means, just some random comments about a few records that have stood out over the years, or that I've found the time to review.

This page covers the letter "X"

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X "Los Angeles" (Slash, 1980)
A scorching, scathing classic from the second (West Coast) wave of American punk rock. While other SoCal bands such as Fear and Black Flag played everything for laughs, John Doe and Exene Cervenka took an aggressively more literate, high-minded view of their art. Once apon a time, critic Griel Marcus wrote of his horror apon hearing this nihilistic assault, which he saw as a harbinger of the moral vacuum in America's youth... He may have been taking things too seriously at the time, but his overreaction is a good measure of the power these guys brought to bear on their first album. Billy Zoom's killer guitar work and Exene's unforgiving vocals may have paved the way for all the crappy hardcore bands that came in their wake, but we'll forgive them... just this once.

X-Ray Spex "Germfree Adolescents" (Virgin, 1978)
One of the greatest '77 punk albums, this is packed with brainy, humorous jabs at conformity and consumerism. The real charm of X-Ray Spex was the band's apparent ineptness which, combined with its obvious intelligence and conviction, made it the prototypical DIY outfit... Singer Poly Styrene can never stay in tune and every time she hits the chorus of the title track, her voice cracks and warbles... it's the cutest darn thing you've ever heard! But at the same time, the song is a devastating indictment of the cultural obsession obsession with newer, cleaner, shinier stuff... and the ability of big, grubby businesses to sell us that stuff. The band split up after a couple of years at the top of the UK punk scene; in the early '80s some folks went wild over saxophonist Lora Logic's solo work and her stuff with Essential Logic, although I find that uber-artsy stuff to be a big bore. Styrene got all Hare Krishna-ed out and put out a few atrociously bad solo records. But, oh, went they were golden... these kids were were great!

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