Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Monday, January 12, 2015

X - Los Angeles/Wild Gift (1980/1981)

Note: the CD I listened to was not the 2001 reissue.

Like most punk music, these 2 albums are full of frenetic, intense aggression and energy, but I also dig X's literate, honest lyrics when I can decipher what they're singing about.  Sure, there's not much to the music (basic rock 'n roll chords played faster and louder, like most punk bands), but that's why it works.  Both albums were produced by The Door's keyboardist Ray Manzarek, but I can't tell that he did much of anything except add some organ parts, make the band do a Doors cover, and otherwise get the hell out of the way.  In other words, he did a perfect job.

As a confessed soft rock/disco/top 40 fan, I was totally unaware of a west coast punk scene in 1980, so I'm gonna let people who better understood that cultural moment better than I speak to the albums:

Robert Christgau from The Village Voice about Wild Gift: "Who knows whether the insightful ministrations of their guitarist will prove as therapeutic for them as for you and me, but I say trust a bohemian bearing gifts. How often do we get a great love album and a great punk album in the same package? A+"

Rolling Stone review of Los Angeles by Ken Tucker:  "X have already perfected a style that achieves jolting effects through enormously compressed, elliptical imagery held together by succint, brutally played guitar and drum riffs.  Poetry plus power."

From the January 23, 1982 issue of Billboard:

In their "500 Greatest Albums of All Time, " Rolling Stone magazine currently has Los Angeles placed at #287, Wild Gift at #333.

See also: any issue of the Slash fanzine that you can find.

On another creative, if non-musical, note: I love all the names associated with the band, from the band name itself, to the label name (Slash), to the musicians' clever names: Billy Zoom, John Doe, Exene, and D.J. Bonebreak.

Bottom line: I wouldn't have dug this DIY-ish joint when I was 14, but I like it now.  It's not a part of my everyday listening, but there are times when it perfectly suits my mood (see below).

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart:  Los Angeles did not chart, Wild Gift #165
Peak on Cash Box album chart: Los Angeles #179, Wild Gift #179

Tracks:  I don't skip any, but today's favorites include Your Phone's Off The Hook But You're Not, Johny Hit And Run Paulene, The Unheard Music, and The World's A Mess It's In My Kiss from the Los Angeles album and Universal Corner, It's Who You Know, In This House That I Call Home, White Girl, and Year 1 from the Wild Gift album.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD:  I had a bad day at work and wanted some angry music to put me in a better mood, if that makes any sense. Picked up this two-fer disc and it must have done the trick: I have no idea why I was so upset that day.

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