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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Los Angeles Is Still Burning, March 19, 2004
This review is from: Los Angeles (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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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sunny California this is not, October 4, 2001
By 
This review is from: Los Angeles (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the most talented & versatile punk band arrives!, March 18, 2002
This review is from: Los Angeles (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. This turned out to be the folk influence coming to the fore & this was just one of many things X had on their fellow punk rockers.
But while those songs had a certain dark cuteness (but not cloyingly so) to them, the other songs on LOS ANGELES are considerably darker & more brutal in their sonic assault. "Your Phone's Off The Hook, But You're Not" (how a break-up song should sound, angry & pummeling), "Johnny Hit & Run Paulene" (a frightening tale of date rape), "Nausea" & the title track leave the listener breathless with their deafening volume & run-for-your-life tempo. These songs also foreshadow the riot-grrl movement by about a decade with Exene's occasionally venomous delivery.
Thanks to the good people at Rhino Records, X's classic albums have been remastered to give them a modern polish, but not sacrifice their volume & even a few bonus tracks. LOS ANGELES' bonuses come from the late 1970s when X was just beginning to build a live reputation. Songs like "I'm Coming Over" & "Adult Books" appear in very rough early versions that would later be revisited for 1981's WILD GIFT album. "Delta 88" is a demo that wouldn't appear for the first time until their 1997 anthology BEYOND & BACK, while "Cyrano De Berger's Back" would first be recorded by obscure punkers The Flesh Eaters before X gave it a go on 1987's SEE HOW WE ARE. "Los Angeles" first appeared on an EP called YES L.A. in 1979 before it got the more "professional" airing it did on LOS ANGELES.
It's a shame that a band like X, who had so much drive to make it on a bigger level, would only have a cult following beyond their loyal California fan base. But albums like LOS ANGELES have since been getting their due as proof that America did have one foot in the punk explosion of the late 1970s-early 1980s, even if its impact was rather limited. Now that X has virtually been around for more than 25 years (they've been on an extended hiatus for years), they could best be called the longest-lasting punk band in history & an album like LOS ANGELES is probably the high-water mark in a career that only has a little to show for it, all of it magnificent.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poverty and Spit, September 26, 2001
This review is from: Los Angeles (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. When in "Sex and Dying in High Society" John Does talks about a girl telling her maid to burn her on her "virgin back" with a curling iron because "pain is better than any kind of love," you get the sense that love and death in "high society" is so shallow and impotent that the impression of feeling is better than feeling nothing at all. This is an exceptional album exposing the fakery of the California Sun. It's a Fleetwood Mac album without the clichés and meretricious display of musicality. It's real, and it may be hard to swallow.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars X-TACY! (sorry, that was lame), May 15, 2006
By 
Shotgun Method (NY... No, not *that* NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Los Angeles (Audio CD)
Imagine a hybrid of The Sex Pistols, Fleetwood Mac, and Chuck Berry and you'd have something close to X's genius sound. Wheareas other West Coast outfits like Black Flag and Circle Jerks made a career out of playing harder, louder, and faster X placed more emphasis on tight musicianship and tunefulness, while still remaining very much a punk band. Their 1980 debut Los Angeles is perhaps their best, darkest album (classic cover to boot!).

From the moment that Exene Cervenka and bassist John Doe start applying their distinctive and slightly off-key harmonies, you can tell from the get-go it's an X song. Both vocalists tell seamy tales of California's underground and the ennui and nihilism of the rich, ranging from date rape (Johnny Hit & Run Pauline) to crashing in a punk dive (Nausea). Exene would have an even greater role in later releases, but on this album the songs are split largely 50/50 between the two vocalists.

Meanwhile, Billy Zoom's guitar blasts out pitch-perfect surf rock riffs and DJ Bonebrake's tight rhythms hold the whole thing together. Ex-Doors member and producer Ray Manzarek contributes some color with some great overdubbed organ lines, but otherwise this album is raw and searing, just as it should be. Your Phone's Off The Hook (But You're Not), The World's A Mess It's In My Kiss, Sex & Dying In High Society and the title track are barnstorming, venomous, and humorous all at once, while The Unheard Music is a slower-burning track with a more poetic and haunting delivery thrown in for variety.

Apart from a somewhat mediocre cover of The Doors' Soul Kitchen and a short album length (the original album is under 30 minutes, and the extra tracks are mostly demos that don't add much to the album), Los Angeles is an excellent release and essential to any discerning punker. Wild Gift and Under The Big Black Sun are also vital X albums, if a bit more polished and civilized than this one.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheeee had to leave....LOS ANGELES, April 10, 2004
By 
The Bas (Columbia, MO) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Los Angeles (Audio CD)
Punk at its BEST. I kind of had to give X a few listens before I came to love it, as the Doe/Exene vocals were something I never heard before, but it all ended up blending in so well with the sheer intensity of this album, backed by the AMAZING Billy Zoom on the guitar. No, this was no ordinary punk...it was punk to set your skin on fire, make your body jump, and make ya think about the world around you. X's awesome follow-up (Wild Gift) further explored domestic 'bliss' (or lack thereof), so what sets X from the crowd is their keen view of the world - not just a bunch of angry punkers saying the world sucks. They are feelin it, playin it, screamin it, lovin it and being it. Most other punk albums get their point across with fast riffs and screaming - well, Los Angeles has all that, but a LOT more.
This has been on my top 10 punk albums of all times - if you don't have it, get it, and I'm sure it will be on yours!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hits Like A Sterilized Hypo, September 18, 2002
This review is from: Los Angeles (Audio CD)
Although Exene Cervenka and John doe were lauded as the poet laureates of L.A.'s burgeoning punk scene in the late 70's, the band's secret weapons were the sonic crunch of guitarist Billy Zoom's rockabilly-influenced riffs and the propulsive backbeat laid down by drummer D.J. Bonebrake. In songs like "Johnny Hit And Run Paulene," "Nausea," and the title track, words and music came together like a nightmare-induced case of the cold sweats and effectively drove a stake through the bloated carcass of the city's country rock scene, which is a fancy way of saying "I like it." Included are five bonus tracks which were not part of 1997's "Beyond And Back" compendium.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Los Angeles, January 16, 2008
By 
This review is from: Los Angeles (Audio CD)
X-Los Angeles *****

Some say the year 1980 belonged to metal and bands such as AC/DC because of Back In Black, and Iron Maidon, Judas Priest, Diamond Head, Van Halen. Well really the year belonged to X as their debut album came out that year and was not only the years best album but one of the top ten albums of the decade. Exene, John Doe, Billy Zoom, DJ Bonebrake made up this seminal punk band and formed in Los Angeles, the name sake of this album and also home to fellow L.A. legends The Doors. Ray Manzarek of the Doors went on to produce this album, and wonderfuly so, even going so far as to play keys on the bands cover of 'Soul Kitchen' which they did gracefully to say the least.

Bonebrake was your systematic drummer playing just enough to make it all come together, while cheif songwriter/vocalist and bass player John Doe laid down some killer grooves, a perfect example of this is the classic 'Nausea.' Billy Zoom played great lead guitar in the same vein as Steve Jones to The Sex Pistols. His complete and total rip off of Chuck Berry's 'Johnny Be Goode' riff which he implamented into 'Johny Hit And Run Paulene' (the albums stand out track) is a prime example of this. Or how about Exene, the frontwomen to end all frontwomen. Her style and grace, yet dirty raw caution to the wind attitude made her a force of unkown. Her lyrics are incredible. Her vocals were smooth as ice but where she really shined was on tracks like 'Sugarlight' and the title track 'Los Angeles' where her and Doe share vocal roles and create some magical harmonies much like The Pixies would do a few years later. But perhaps the best example of this can be heard on the extreamly haunting 'The Unheard Music' which is very slow and daunting about kids who lose their parents too young likt Bonebrake and Exene both did. The guitar work is also phenomonal. This track gives 'Johny Hit...' a run for it's money.

The albums strongest track 'Johny Hit And Run Paulene' is the story of rape and guilt with the most clever title in rock history. John Doe refused to play the song live after the first tour because he felt people were not listening to the lyrics and getting excitted about the song in the wrong way. 'Sex And Dying In High Society' is no more then a track inspired by being surrounded by the rich and Doe's complete disstain for their way of life. The albums opener 'Your Phones Off The Hook, But Your Not' has not only a clever title but some of the strongest lyrics that the band would ever use in their entire career.

The bonus tracks that are available on some reissues of the album are fantastic as well. 'I'm Coming Over' sounds sweet and angelic at first but then jumps into the bands rawest sounding most in your face song ever! 'Adult Books' is actually a well known song but this version is just a little more raw. The demo version of 'Delta 88' is fantastic and sheds a new light on the song and how it became the way it was finally released. 'Cyrano De Berger's Back' is just a rehearsal recording but it is actually pretty cool. Then to top it off is an alternate version of 'Los Angeles' which is not as good as the classic version but still a cool listen every once in a while.

Classic!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There Aren't Enough Stars To Give This Classic, December 30, 2002
By 
"prymel" (Anaheim, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Los Angeles (Audio CD)
I remember purchasing the vinyl copy of this album in my early teens when it was initially released. The song "Los Angeles" was all over the local "alternative" station at the time, and I loved the song, so I had great anticipation as I started the turntable. The original Slash version of the record sounded terrible, it popped and crackled all over the place, and when the music kicked in, my initial thought was how much I *hated* what was blaring through my speakers. I moved the needle to get my "Los Angeles" fix, then shut down the stereo and lamented the dollars wasted.
For some reason I gave the record a second chance, and I'm so glad I did. This album is proof positive that first impressions can be glaringly wrong. What I thought was initially noisy dreck is actually so much more accomplished than much of the other punk and new wave of the day or since. This band can really play, and there is a melodicism and life in the music that other punk pretenders sorely lack. And, while I'm not much for the politics and social activism of John Doe and Exene, their lyrics still paint an eerie picture of street life, without me feeling like I'm being preached at. Perhaps the most unpleasant song upon first listen, "The Unheard Music" grabs you on repeated listenings, and creates the loneliest, most heartbreaking feeling. But while many of the lyrics are about struggle and darkness, there is something wonderfully uplifting in the spirit within the songs, and you end up with a smile on your face when it's over, and the desire to experience it again and again.
X made more polished albums, and more entertaining and fun albums, and more pensive albums, but they never made a better album than "Los Angeles".
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All Hail, X!, July 15, 2003
By 
Tara (Toronto, Ontario) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Los Angeles (Audio CD)
This album brings tears to my eyes...it's just that good. It was the soundtrack of my high school years and continues to be a favourite in my record collection to this day. Los Angeles is X at it's raw best- a perfect marriage of rockabilly, punk and pure poetry. The sound of John Doe and Exene singing is absolutely breathtaking...ACK! I can't recommend this enough! If you like the Cramps, Siouxie or early L.A./UK punk rock, you will love this. Also check out X's fourth album, More Fun in the New World, and on this particular release the previously unavailable gem, Cyrano de Berger's Back.
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Los Angeles
Los Angeles by X (Audio CD - 2001)
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