Monday, June 11, 2018

X - Beyond and Back

This is another release that I am astonished to discover that I haven't written about already. I have been a huge fan of the band since I first saw them at the Hong Kong Cafe in 1979 and have watched them throughout their career in varying line-ups and degrees of popularity. They will always be the defining band of the Los Angeles/Hollywood scene - so much so that I think it has hindered/limited their appeal to some extent.

This is an anthology that the group compiled consisting of tracks from their "official" releases, to live cuts to demos to singles to remixes. This 45 song (!), 2-CD release is jam-packed with a combination of their best-known songs (often from a different release than the known version) and tunes that have never seen the light of day before.

Of course, it opens with the quintessential X song, "Los Angeles" (from the Slash records release of their first album) and you can immediately see that they were far beyond most LA "punk" bands in the quality of their songwriting and production right from the start. A live "The World's a Mess" follows, then a rehearsal of something called "Yr Ignition", a demo of "Year One", the official "Hungry Wolf", the single version of "We're Desperate" and on and on...There's unreleased numbers like "Heater" and "Delta 88", raw demos of "Soul Kitchen" and "Johnny Hit and Run Pauline" (that overdoses on vocal reverb), a powerful, live "Universal Corner", "I'm Coming Over" from Live at the Masque, and single mixes of "White Girl" and "Riding With Mary", among others. (And there's a funny "hidden track" if you let disc one play long enough.)

CD 2 incorporates much of the same type of thing - live cuts, demos, etc. - starting with a high quality demo of "The New World", the single mix of "Breathless" and "Wild Thing" (wow, the latter sure sounds 80's!), a pretty different rough mix of "What's Wrong With Me", a few tunes from their offshoot, the Knitters, really nice demos of "See How We Are" and "Fourth of July", there's some demo fragments, "Burning House of Love" from the Unclogged album, a hot-as-Hades demo of "Devil Doll", and plenty more before concluding with an 1997 mix of their incredible "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts" that finishes with a ferocious guitar solo. (This disc's "hidden track" is the instrumental backing track of "Hungry Wolf".)

Such a great band - highly original, supremely talented musicians, intelligent, poetic lyrics and damn catchy songs. A number of goosebumps inducing moments here. Essential for any fan!