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Under the Big Black Sun (Remastered) [Expanded Edition]

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Album Review

X's first album issued on a major label, 1982's Under the Big Black Sun, is arguably their finest record. All 11 songs are exceptional, from both a performance and compositional point of view. Ray Manzarek's production is more akin to hard rock bands than their earlier punk works, but the songs still pack quite a punch. Before the recording of the album, singer Exene Cervenka's sister was killed by a drunk driver, and the bandmembers decided to work out their grief in the music, as evidenced by two of the album's best tracks: the melodic "Riding with Mary" and the vintage '50s sound of "Come Back to Me." The highlights don't stop there, however; also included are the Led Zeppelin-esque "The Hungry Wolf" (an early video favorite of MTV), the accelerating "Motel Room in My Bed," the rocker "Blue Spark," the spacious title track, and the album closer "The Have Nots." Again, Cervenka and John Doe supply some great vocal harmonies (perhaps the only punk band to ever do so), while Billy Zoom shows off great rockabilly chops throughout. Under the Big Black Sun is one of the quintessential rock records from the '80s. [Rhino's 2001 reissue of the album is given five bonus tracks, in addition to fine remastering and liner notes from Kristine McKenna. Added are the single version of "Riding with Mary" and a ferocious cover of Jerry Lee Lewis' "Breathless," as well as exciting live versions of "Universal Corner" and "How I (Learned My Lesson)." A run-through of Marty Robbins' cowboy classic "El Paso" segued with an instrumental version of "Because I Do" is a nice fan bonus.]

Biography

Formed: 1977 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

X were far from the first punk rock band in Los Angeles, and they weren't the first to achieve some level of nationwide recognition, but in a very real way, they were the ones who put the L.A. punk scene on the map. X were the first L.A. punk band to be taken seriously by the rock press on both coasts, and at a time when many wondered how punk could thrive in the land of all that was mellow, X played music that was as raw, passionate, and powerful as anything coming out of New York, London, or any...
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