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Live In Los Angeles

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Album Review

In the first few years of the 21st century, it seemed as if all the bands that earned great reps but didn't make any money back in the 1980s and '90s were staging reunion tours, hoping to draw some of the cash and approval they didn't find back in the day. X were ahead of the curve on this notion; while they ruled Los Angeles for a few years in the 1980s, they never quite broke nationally, but in 1998 the classic X lineup of John Doe, Exene Cervenka, Billy Zoom, and D.J. Bonebrake got back together for some hometown shows, and they've been periodically taking the act out of mothballs ever since. Anyone who saw X in the 1980s can tell you they were simply one of the very best bands to come out of the American punk scene, and their reunion gigs have proven they're still in full command of their very impressive faculties. Live in Los Angeles was recorded during a pair of gigs at the Los Angeles House of Blues in the fall of 2004, and while John Doe jokes in passing that the years are advancing upon him and his bandmates, the truth is that, on much of this album, you'd be hard-pressed to guess if this was recorded in 2004 or 1984, and that's a high compliment. Zoom's punkabilly guitar leads are as sharp and bruising as ever, Doe and Bonebrake remain a potent and muscular rhythm section, and if there's still a high chaos factor in Doe and Cervenka's harmonies, they sound passionate and reckless, and no real fan would want them any other way. There are no new songs here, and the arrangements don't differ in a substantial way from the studio recordings of these tunes, but this does offer up a fine quality live recording of X's best lineup, something listeners didn't get the first time around, and while the cynical might suggest that this is the product of a band playing the punk version of the oldies circuit, if X are performing with this much skill and fury, you can't say the fans aren't getting great value for their money. Big, loud, dangerous fun.


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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