X The band defined my early college years. Seeing this band live was always an unknown, whether playing at the Whiskey a Go-Go on the Hollywood Strip or at the Olympic with 20 other punk bands. You never could predict what would happen. Kids dressed in Levis and steel toed engineer boots all jacked up on Black Beauties and Colt 45. Fights in the pit common (Beach Punks vs. Hollywood Punks) or the cops would show up with billy clubs swinging. Mayham.
Bands like the Circle Jerks, Black Flag were super violent scenes, where the music was just background for beating the crap out of anyone who was in the way. X could play punk rock with a unique vocal melody between Jon Doe and Exene, Billy zoom smiling posed guitar stance, and DJ Bonebrake pounding drums. This sound made punks look up and listen. Los Angles by X is still one of my favorites even 30 odd years later. Listen. You will be hooked.
“Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: Los Angeles by X ranks #286”
X – Los Angeles with John Doe (lead vocals, bass), Exene Cervenka (lead vocals), Billy Zoom (guitar), DJ Bonebrake (drums,/percussion). Producer – Ray Manzerek of The Doors.
1. YOUR PHONE’S OFF THE HOOK, BUT YOU’RE NOT
2. JOHNNY HIT AND RUN PAULENE
3. SOUL KITCHEN
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
Busting out of the box on their second album, the James Gang hit the dirt bucking and kicking with the muscular rocker Funk #49 which highlights the stellar guitar of Joe Walsh. Contemporaries like Clapton and Paige have nothing on this incarnation of The Bomber. Side two is a fibrous garden, laced with acoustic gems thoughtfully tended by Ashes the Rain and I.
James Gang Rides Again is some of Walsh’s finest work showcasing his writing, playing, and musical prowess. There is also some rock’in good “Cow Bell” here. Enjoy!
Today’s Runner is Lou Reed’s powerful editorial album New York. Raw and gritty, the dirty boulevard is a sharp contrast to the sunset over the mountains here on the high desert. In NY, “you need a bus load of faith to get by”.
This week marks the passing of Davy Jones, one of the four original Monkees, the first “boy band”, “the pre-fab four”. Today’s runner is their 3rd album Headquarters which was a turning point in the group’s evolution. It was the first record in which all four members of the band Peter, Micky, Davy and Mike write, play and actually have a say in the creative and production of the album.
Headquarters was released in 1967 just in time for the Summer of Love. The Monkees brand had become a cultural phenomenon prior to its release and even though the record does not break any new ground in terms of musical style or muscle, it is tight, well written and produced. It holds up nicely as a document to the sound and styles that were popular at the time. Echos of Beatles a la Revolver and Sgt. Pepper, the Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, even the harmonies of folk legends like The Kingston Trio are present here.
The music on Headquarters is strong and blends together well. The album does not produce any super hits like prior Monkee records; the stand out song here is the Torkelson penned ForPete’s Sake, which sums up the mood and spirit of the time and of a generation striving for love, freedom and peace. I sometimes wonder what has happened to that generation. Where they are today, during these equally challenging times.
The Monkees were not musical innovators like their counterparts, the Beatles, but they were pioneers of pop and culture, and they delivered some really fun, entertaining and memorable music along the way. Headquarters is a testament to that.
RIP Davy Jones. And, “cheer up, Sleepy Jean…”