Saturday, November 28, 2015

X: You Are Here

There’s no telling what you’ll find in a used-CD rack at a street fair. It’s a great time to pick up those records that you’ve always been meaning to get but didn’t want to spend the bucks.

Sometimes you get disappointed with an overrated British band. And sometimes you get disappointed by a good American one.

So is the lesson to skip those street fairs? If so, I haven’t learned it yet.

X: Los Angeles

X reminded me of a punk version of Jefferson Airplane. At least the singing made them seem so. The John Doe/Exene Cervenka harmonies sound a hell of a lot like the Paul Kantner/Grace Slick ones. Except it’s John Doe singing the melodies and Exene adding the punk edge.

And that, of course, is where the similarities end.

They also have a tight, tight, tight guitar player Billy Zoom. (Jorma’s great, but Billy punches things home in a very powerful and concise manner. How about that? The punk guitar player is the sharper one, and the older guy a bit sloppier) And the well named drummer DJ Bonebreak keeping things moving real fast.

This debut album came out to great acclaim in 1980. I missed it at the time, but then did catch up with X with their next record, Wild Gift (also included on this single CD! So by definition it's a bargain.) which might be the greatest punk album ever.

But album one does suffer in comparison.  It’s not a bad record. It’s just that everything here sounds like a run up to Wild Gift.

And what the hell is the organ doing there, anyway? Ah, but I already know why. X hails from Los Angeles, which is also where the Doors were from. And guess who’s playing organ here? Yep, Ray Manzarek.

Now, I think it’s great that Ray appreciated X enough to want to produce them, and that X respected him right back enough to have him play on the record. (They also do a punk version of “Soul Kitchen”.) But it’s a nice gesture that adds nothing to the music. It takes the edge off, and turns what would have been a fine punk album into pretty good hard rock one.

Wild Gift, again, does it better. They keep Ray in the control booth this time, only referring to the Doors, rather obliquely, at the end of the last song: “...waiting for the son, for any son to come”, bringing the whole record to a perfect ending.

But there are good songs here. And who knows how I’d feel about it if I heard it first? Those that did prefer it to Wild Gift.

It just goes to show it all depends where you start. And where is that?  Right where you are.  And where is that?

X - You Are Here


By the way, Wild Gift is an A, verging on an A+.

“The World’s a Mess, It’s in My Kiss”

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