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Los Angeles

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Los Angeles
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Audio CD, September 18, 2001
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Los Angeles + Wild Gift + Under the Big Black Sun (Expanded & Remastered Edition)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

John Doe, Exene Cervenka, Billy Zoom, and D.J. Bonebrake were critical and popular heroes on the bristling LA club scene of the late '70s to early '80s. With X, the four took a hardcore approach that combined traditional blues, folk, country, rockabilly, and punk rock with a dark lyrical sensibility that reflected the cynical times. X came up from the LA underground and built a dedicated West Coast following. Among the band's biggest early fans was ex-Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who produced X's acclaimed first album, Los Angeles, for the fledgling local label Slash. After 1981's equally praised Wild Gift, X signed a major-label deal with Elektra, which would release 1982's Under The Big Black Sun and their next four albums - each a raging slab of musical invention that would help sow the seeds of the "alternative" revolution. Produced by The Doors' Ray Manzarek, Los Angeles, X's groundbreaking debut, was all about capturing the spirit of the band's explosive live show. It's among the most influential punk albums of all time - now expanded with five bonus tracks, including unreleased demos and alternate versions. Deluxe booklet includes liner notes, band commentary, photos, memorabilia, and lyrics.

Steeped in poetry and class issues, X was the first L.A. punk band to fully incorporate a dark West Coast sensibility. Singer/lyricists/spouses John Doe and Exene Cervenka forged a stray-cat approach to vocal harmonies while spieling reports on crash-pad sex and drugs, casual hatred, and the occasional spotting of the "idle rich." Full-powered and intelligent, X's sound also spotlighted Billy Zoom, a pompadoured guitarist schooled by Gene Vincent, and flexible drummer D.J. Bonebrake. Los Angeles, the first of four productions by ex-Door Ray Manzarek, made an excellent case for the group, though its ambitions were to be quickly outstripped by the evolving personal takes of Doe and Cervenka. For the most part, the album is fast, hard, and fleet, like the motorcycles Zoom loved: "Your Phone's Off the Hook," "Johnny Hit and Run Pauline," the title track, and a Ramones-style cover of the Doors' "Soul Kitchen" are touchstones that reach beyond their era. Only "The Unheard Music," a turgid bit of suburbia-bashing, mars the original LP, which is augmented on this reissue by five bonus tracks that bring the running time close to 40 minutes. --Rickey Wright

1. Your Phone's Off The Hook, But You're Not
2. Johnny 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 (Demo)
12. Delta 88 (Demo)
13. Cyrano De Berger's Back (Rehearsal)
14. Los Angeles (Dangerhouse Version)

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 18, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rhino / Slash
  • ASIN: B00005NTQ5
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,892 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By P Magnum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 19, 2004
Format: Audio CD
X's debut album, Los Angeles, was released in 1980 and was produced by Ray Manzarek of The Doors. X emerged out of the burgeoning L.A. punk rock scene of the late 70's. Unlike most of their contemporaries who were more raw style than substance, X consisted of gifted musicians. They fused the raw power & frenzied emotion of punk with strands of rockabilly and country twang. The quartet of Exene Cervenka on vocals, John Doe on bass, Billy Zoom on guitar and DJ Bonebrake on drums were supplemented by Mr. Manzarek on keyboards. The nine songs are quick bursts of power and precision. The opening track's spurned lover fury of "The Phone's Off The Hook, But Your Not", the date rape victim of "Johnny Hit & Run Pauline", the feverish remake of The Doors' "Soul Kitchen", the banality of rich people's existence in "Sex & Dying In High Society" (which was used a theme in Bret Easton Ellis' book Less Than Zero) and the majesty of the title track, the album's finest moment. The reissue is augmented beautifully by five tracks. X was a band never destined for mainstream success, but nearly a quarter of a century later, this album as with much of their music, still sounds fresh and vital.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Stanley Alderson on October 4, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This is quite possibly one of the darkest albums of all time. The Sex Pistols were just angry, The Clash championed the working class, but X took the punk sound and told stories of heroin, rape, and other abnormalities that took place in the L.A. underground. This is not the Los Angeles that the news media brought to the masses. The stories they told were not received from some second hand news source, they were first hand witnesses to man's inhumanity to man. "Los Angeles," "The World's a Mess, Its In my Kiss," "Sex and Dying in High Society," and "Johnny Hit and Run Pauline" are the stand out tracks. As with "Wild Gift" the remastered version stands taller when matched up to the previously released version. If you ever doubt that the world is a cruel place, listen to this. The picture you see with their words provides a description that is only a notch below an eyewitness account.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By 34-year old wallflower on March 18, 2002
Format: Audio CD
While the punk rock movement may have virtually overhauled the British music industry, in America, it made a relatively small impact on its popular music. Except for maybe the Talking Heads, who later smoothed out its rough edges, the slicker offspring of punk called new wave was what the Americans seemed to find more palatable. As a result bands like California's X had to settle for a mostly regional following who appreciated influential music when they heard it. 1980's LOS ANGELES was when X first committed their frenzied live act into a studio setting.
Former Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek (also a California native) had some success post-Doors as a producer & was charged with helping X develop an identity in the studio. While as time went on, X would go for a much cleaner sound & approach, Manzarek pretty much let the band just play live on LOS ANGELES (with the occasional overdub like Ray Manzarek's organ). The result was an audio snapshot of the punk scene in California that showed so much potential to reach national acclaim, but that didn't happen but posthumously.
From the start, it was clear that X was probably the most talented & accomplished of the California punk bands & this is proven with the vocal harmonies between bassist John Doe & vocalist Exene Cervenka that no other punk band could claim. Songs like the sped-up cover of The Doors' "Soul Kitchen" (probably a tribute to their illustrious producer), "Sugarlight", "Sex & Dying In High Society", "The Unheard Music" & the epic closer "The World's A Mess; It's In My Kiss" show the prominent set-up of Exene (or Doe) singing solo with the other later chiming in on the chorus & occasionally on the verses.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By "" on September 26, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I'll be honest. The only reason I bought this album is because Brett Easton Ellis talked about X all the time in "Less Than Zero." After listening to the record, I understand why. Both are about the decadence of Los Angeles and the nihilism of its youth.Both are about the corruption of money and the emptiness of sex.In short, both are about realizing how miniscule you are in this world and how insignificant you are to everybody else. Now, on that happy note, "Los Angeles" is not only a true punk classic, but it's also pretty good old-fashion rock n'roll. Fleetwood Mac would sound this way if they didn't have enough money to produce their albums. In fact, it might be good to compare Exene Cervenka and Stevie Nicks. Both claim to be poets, both are unusual, attractive, and slightly off key - in the case of Exene way off key, but both can maintain their own. I could compare John Doe and Lindsey Buckingham, but why bother? The point is that both are the sound of California but on opposite poles: Fleetwood Mac's the rich and X's the poor. This is very apparent on X's "The Unheard Music." Boy, does this song rock! It has guitar crunches, a slow melodic dark sound reminiscent of The Doors and a Beach Boy in the sun type of break that is anything but hopeful."Nausea" is the best song on the album because it encapsulates the whole feel of isolation in a big city and a life among the "poverty and spit." The title track shows a woman in flight from her own derangement, her incipient indifference. The other stand out song is "Your Phone's Off the Hook, But You're Not." It's a deliciously evil hillbilly rocker that has Exene singing atonally about her sister and some guy who doesn't "have to answer" her or "call her" back. In fact, the overall theme of this album is the evil of humanity.Read more ›
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