X-Ray Spex: Poly-Styrene (vocals); Jak Airport (guitar); Rudi Thomson (saxophone); Paul Dean (bass); BP Hurding (drums).
X-Ray Spex is notable for a number of reasons. Chiefly, it was one of the very few bands UK punk bands with female members. One of the group's distinguishing characteristics is their decidedly un-punk use of saxophones. Most importantly, though, X-Ray Spex's first effort is actually a good record!
Fronted by Marion Elliot, who called herself Poly Styrene in those days, Spex managed to capture something that many punk rock bands missed. They always sounded like they were having a really great time. Many of the lyrics deal with appearance and perception ("Identity," "I Can't Do Anything," "I A ClichT"), and most are quite funny, sung in Elliot's proudly unschooled, nasal voice. The music is based on standard-issue buzzing punk guitar and propulsive drumming but also features Rudi Thompson's clever, aggressive sax. Though the CD mysteriously re-sequences the track listing of the original vinyl, it more than compensates by adding four bonus songs-including both sides of the band's brilliant debut single, "Oh Bondage, Up Yours!" This album defines one glorious moment in a musical revolution and is required listening for anyone with an interest in punk.
Rolling Stone (10/31/02, p.140) - Ranked # 46 in Rolling Stone's "Women in Rock: The 50 Essential Albums" - "...Exciting..."
Spin (5/01, p.108) - Ranked #5 in Spin's "50 Most Essential Punk Records" - "...No '77ers had more fun thrashing through pop culture's candy shop of horrors than these brace-faced, sax-strangling supergeeks..."
Spin (p.108) - "[I]t's the roots of Sleater-Kinney, Le Tigre, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and an up-and-coming art-punk garage crew near you."
Q (5/02 SE, p.144) - 3 stars out of 5 - Included in Q's "100 Best Punk Albums" - "...Inventive, humorous, fiesty and filler-free."
Uncut (p.132) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[T]he heat and intensity of this debut has never been repeated. Nearly 30 years after it was recorded, GERMFREE ADOLESCENTS is as timely as ever."
Q (Magazine) (p.139) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t still comes up trumps, packed with such witty, no-nonsense rants as 'Warrior In Woolworths,' 'Identity' and 'The Day The World Turned Day-Glo'..."
Mojo (Publisher) (3/03, p.76) - Ranked #19 in Mojo's "Top 50 Punk Albums" - "...Poly Styrene steered X-Ray Spex from market-stall chic to Top of the Pops with an audacious run of hits..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.131) - 4 stars out of 5 - "The band's entire studio output in just over an hour..."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.96) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Punk credentials assured, the group relished messing with the genre's narrow musical template by adding atonal saxophone breaks from the delightfully-named 'Lora Logic' and the distorted guitar figures of 'Jak Airport.'"