TITLE: Los Angeles
YEAR RELEASED: 1980
CHART ACTION: #14 UK Indie
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The Unheard Music
LINEUP: Jon Doe, Exene, Billy Zoom, DJ Bonebrake. Ray Manzarek plays organ.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Emerging from the LA punk scene, X was the arty, melodic band that were the shining light for that movement and this album holds up well today.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Melding beatnik poetry, eerie harmonies, solid drumming from the aptly named DJ Bonebrake, and updated rockabilly guitar from the cool Billy Zoom, X was the band from the LA punk scene that had the best chance to break through.
Their debut record, produced by Ray Manzarek of the Doors (they cover “Soul Kitchen”), whose organ flourishes adds some tension to the production. They didn’t need a ‘name’, though, their music spoke loud and clear on its own merit.
Exene and Jon Doe’s vocal harmonies were distinctive, and there’s plenty of melody here, which was unusual for the LA punk scene. Many of the cuts, such as “Johnny Hit and Run Pauline” and “Nausea” are landmarks for the movement, whose anthem may have been “The Unheard Music”.
Also, Billy Zoom, man…
NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Nausea” was the theme for the great film The Decline of the Western Civilization, which chronicled the scene in all of its glory.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, demos and rehearsals added to the mix.
GRADE: A: With only nine tracks, there’s not a chance for filler. Maybe their Doors cover could go. Maybe.