Themes From Great Cities

It might have come to your attention that I'm not a regular poster of love and understanding, which you will just have to get used to. I will however, have bursts of creativity where I move completely randomly from post to post with no rhyme or reason. I have recently posted a few singles (7 & 12”) and the odd bootleg which have been received very well by all who visit. More of the same will continue as you, dear readers, seem to be enjoying them.

Some of the rips are my own, but many more are from other blogs and I’m just sharing the wealth. If other bloggers out there wish to share the rips from my posts, please as I do, host them yourself. To combat this, the FLAC files that are over 6 months old will be replaced with MP3 files.

Finally I am happy to re-up old posts where the link has expired. Please comment in the relevant posts comments box.


Lost Angeles

Another classic re-up that I've wanted to re share with a bit added on the side...

By the late '70s, punk rock and hardcore were infiltrating the Los Angeles music scene. Such bands as Black Flag, the Germs, and, especially, X were the leaders of the pack, prompting an avalanche of copycat bands and eventually signing record contracts themselves. X's debut, Los Angeles, is considered by many to be one of punk's all-time finest recordings, and with good reason. Most punk bands used their musical inability to create their own style, but X actually consisted of some truly gifted musicians, including rockabilly guitarist Billy Zoom, bassist John Doe, and front woman Exene Cervenka, who, with Doe, penned poetic lyrics and perfected sweet yet biting vocal harmonies. Los Angeles is prime X, offering such all-time classics as the venomous "Your Phone's Off the Hook, but You're Not," a tale of date rape called "Johnny Hit and Run Paulene," and two of their best anthems (and enduring concert favourites), "Nausea" and the title track. While they were tagged as a punk rock act from the get-go (many felt that this eventually proved a hindrance), X are not easily categorized. Although they utilize elements of punk's frenzy and electricity, they also add country, ballads, and rockabilly to the mix.

There are a couple of times during "The Decline Of Western Civilization", Penelope Spheeris' 1980 documentary on L.A. punk, where you realize that X aren't really like the other bands that made up that scene. The first is during an interview with Exene where Spheeris notices a bouquet of roses behind her and asks Exene where she got them. "The Whiskey sent them." she replied "They like us. They do better business when we play there." Apart from maybe for a funeral, I'm pretty sure that nobody from Black Flag, Circle Jerks or Fear were ever sent flowers from any club owners.
The other comes during a short explanation of the song "We're Desperate" (from second album "Wild Gift"). Exene says "There's going to come a time when we play this song and people are gonna think "sure, they're desperate. I just paid $6 to see this band… they're not desperate"" and then adds almost embarrassedly "There are other ways of being desperate than being poor"
Both examples are telling as it shows that X, even though they were connected to that scene, were not like other prominent L.A. punk bands like Black Flag. They were co-operative. Their approach was more professional, with the punk ethos being less a style and more about making music that was direct and honest. It was obvious that they were taking their careers and the music that they made seriously. While other bands were pursuing the proto-aggro side of punk with hardcore, X went in the Americana direction with revved-up surf, roots and rockabilly riffs. They had much more in common musically with bands like The Blasters and Rank n' File than with the Circle Jerks.
Of all the punk debut albums that were released during that 1980-1982 period, X's "Los Angeles" was easily the most accomplished of the crop. Even though they were slammed for doing something as unpunk as having ex-Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek producing (plus adding keys); he was able to have the band keep that balance between the raw and the cooked. It also didn't hurt that X had brought a great batch of tunes to the table. All eight originals are keepers, with "Johnny Hit And Run Paulene", "Nausea", The World's A Mess, It's In My Kiss" and the title track being standouts. Also, their cover of The Doors' "Soul Kitchen" is better than it has any right to be.
What can't be denied is the band's chemistry. Be it Exene and John Doe's harmonizing, Billy Zoom's hyperbilly riffing or DJ Bonebreak's rocksteady drumming; it all fits together perfectly. 
Debating whether or not X or this album is "punk" enough is irrelevant; "Los Angeles" is a classic no matter how you slice it.

Ripped from the 2001 remastered CD reissue to MP3 @ 320 kbps and now added a vinyl rip in FLAC

X; Los Angeles

1.      Your Phones Off The Hook, But You’re Not
2.      Johny Hit And Run Paulene
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
10.   I’m Coming Over (Demo)
11.   Adult Books (Dangerhouse Rough Mix)
12.   Delta 88 (Demo)
13.   Cyrano De Berger’s Back (Rehersal)
14.   Los Angeles (Dangerhouse Version)

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