X

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Los Angeles

X - Los Angeles ©1980 Slash
1. Your Phone's Off The Hook (But You're Not)
2. Johnny Hit And Run Pauline
3. Soul Kitchen
4. Nausea
5. Sugarlight
6. Los Angeles
7. Sex And Dying In High Society
8. The Unheard Music
9. The World's A Mess, It's In My Kiss

Arguably a major classic of the early L.A. punk scene, Los Angeles is a slightly flawed album that makes up for the down part with some seriously energetic and viable pieces of rock. Unlike some of the other early punk bands, X's sound was based on the dual vocals of John Doe and Exene layed over a highly charged rockabilly attack led by guitarist Billy Zoom. Zoom's style was one part old rock'n'roll swagger mixed with some simple but effective chords and hooks. Though the overall rushed sound quality and somewhat amateurish approach might turn off the GIT crowd, the abundance of adrenaline charged music takes over. Sure, Exene hits a sour note in "Soul Kitchen". But just listen to the truly rocking guitar solo in "Johnny Hit and Run Pauline" or the excellent "The World's a Mess It's in My Kiss" that features organ straight from the Doors (mainly since Ray Manzarek from that band recorded the album). Today this album's songwriting and music stands up exceptionally well and even today's bands nod a head to X with covers (ALL is known to cover the title track or "Johnny Hit and Run Pauline" onstage). So what are you waiting for? Go find this one.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/1999

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Wild Gift

©1981 Slash
1. The Once Over Twice
2. We're Desperate
3. Adult Books
4. Universal Corner
5. I'm Coming Over
6. It's Who You Know
7. In This House That I Call Home
8. Some Other Time
9. White Girl
10. Beyond and Back
11. Back 2 the Base
12. When Our Love Passed Out on the Couch
13. Year 1

After the frantic excitement of the X's debut, Los Angeles, X slowly allowed more of the rock and roll roots to shine through on the follow up Wild Gift. X overall sounds more in control of their sound with stronger harmonies from John Doe and Exene (particularly since Exene seems more disciplined in her delivery, not that it even remotely harmed the fun that is Los Angeles). Guitarist Billy Zoom continued to whip out rockabilly styled riffs. But on the whole, this is where X started to lose a bit of their appeal to me. And obviously just me since they have quite the following based on far more than just their debut. Wild Gift feels considerably too restrained for my tastes. There are some very good songs, such as the snappy "We're Desperate" or "Back 2 the Base", but songs such as "White Girl" have always felt underpowered and too cautious for my tastes.

Wild Gift is certainly a decent album, particularly for those who lean towards the general rockabilly sound (which is probably more "rockabilly" in retrospect and was most likely seen as good ol' rock and roll at the time of its release). I admit that it's always been tough for me to really explore the X discography beyond their debut. Should I stop living in the past? Am I becoming one of those obnoxious, more-punk-than-thou types who only like a band's first 7" before slagging on them the remainder of their career? No, those things are not the case. Los Angeles was simply a tough act to follow. Especially if you buy the compact disc edition that pairs it with Wild Gift.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2010


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