Los Angeles

X

Slash Records, 1980

REVIEW BY: Hansen Olson

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/09/1997

This is a true story. No shit. My wife and I were sitting in this scummy sandwich place drinking coffee and waiting to see X perform. This couple comes in and goes over to the pinball machine. My wife leans over and says, "Do you think they're homeless? I don't even think they can afford to wash their hair. Should we buy 'em something to eat?" About then, the couple turns around. Sure enough, it's Exene Cervenka and John Doe - lead singer and bass player for X (and, at the time, husband and wife). They played pinball, smoked dozens of cigarettes, argued and left.nbtc__dv_250

Later that night, we went to "The Revolution," Sioux Falls, South Dakota's short-lived punk club. This was 1981, right after Los Angeles came out. It had probably sold less than 500 copies in the entire state and every person who bought one was at the gig. Rumor had it that X like chaos at their shows. True to form, they had all barriers between them and the audience removed. The slam dancers were, literally, inches away from the band. We planted ourselves in front of Billy Zoom, guitarist extraordinaire. He played with his legs spread wide, looking straight forward with a glazed smile on his face. He looked like a golden eagle circling the canyon looking for prey. Ten minutes after the show started, some asshole drunk decided he wanted to feel Exene up. They were in the middle of "Johny Hit And Run Pauline," a song about rape and murder. Billy started his solo as the drunk started grabbing Exene by the left breast. John Doe didn't notice or didn't care. Billy had that same look on his face, that same smile. Suddenly, his pick hand flashed out and he hit the guy square in the nose. Asshole flew back 10 feet with blood pouring from his now crooked schnoz. He missed my wife by a foot. Billy Zoom never missed a note. I shit you not.

That's how I think of X. Barely controlled chaos. Lyrics that put Charles Bukowski (look him up on the Net!) to shame. Blood and grime and spilled beer and guitar from a mutant, shoe polish sniffing Chuck Berry fanatic.

Los Angeles is a good place to start. John Doe and Exene harmonize on songs that make living on the edge in El Lay sound, well, desirable. Ray Manzarek of the Doors produced it and plays keyboards. They even do a warp speed cover of "Soul Kitchen." DJ Bonebrake plays solid drums in the understated style of Charlie Watts. The song titles say it all: "Your Phone's Off The Hook, But You're Not," "Sex And Dying In High Society," "Nausea." Eddie Cochran meets the Sex Pistols and huffs glue til he pukes. I shit you not.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 1997 Hansen Olson and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Slash Records, and is used for informational purposes only.