Prevailing ideology pins punk's origins on New York's Ramones or England's Sex Pistols. And while sunny California might have seemed ill-equipped to foster a punk scene when compared with soggy London or New York's concrete jungle, Los Angeles bred its own version of the genre and X, along with the Germs, marked the scene's focus.
Fans who've never had the pleasure of dropping some X into their CD players can do just that when Rhino Records reissues the band's first three albums Los Angeles (1980), Wild Gift (1981) and Under the Big Black Sun (1982) on September 18, making them available for the first time individually in the compact-disc format, according to a label publicist (see "Got Any X? Memorabilia, That Is"). Produced by Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, each album was critically heralded in its time for elaborating on punk's raw edge with folk, country, rockabilly and straight-up rock influences.
The remastered reissues feature the albums' original artwork and bonus material in the form of demos, alternate takes, remixes, live cuts and previously unreleased studio tracks.
X gave punk conventions a twist when they hit the Los Angeles club scene in 1977. The band's original lineup consisted of singer Exene Cervenka, whose trashy-chic wardrobe predated Madonna's similar garb by five years; Billy Zoom, an all-American guitarist with rockabilly roots; flailing drummer Don Bonebrake; and the punk-poet bassist John Doe. X's distinctive art-punk sound was a major influence on future bands such as Jane's Addiction that also hinged on flamboyant style and imagery.
The quartet's original lineup is still alive and kicking, albeit infrequently, on the concert circuit. Zoom left the band in 1986 and was replaced briefly by Dave Alvin, who played in Cervenka and Doe's punk-folk side project, the Knitters. Tony Gilkyson later performed with X onstage and in the studio prior to Zoom rejoining his bandmates in 1998.
Doe and the group begin a brief string of West Coast dates Friday in Portland, Oregon. A handful of previously scheduled shows had to be scrapped so Doe could film a few episodes of the WB series "Roswell," his manager said. Doe has had a recurring role as the father of the character Liz Parker since the program first aired in 1999.
The actor/bassist is also working on his next solo album, the follow-up to last year's Freedom Is …, according to his manager. Six songs produced by singer/songwriter Joe Henry have been recorded with guests including Aimee Mann, Jakob Dylan, Beck guitarist Smokey Hormel (who also played on Doe's last effort) and R.E.M. drummer Joey Waronker. Doe will pursue a new label deal upon the album's completion.
X/John Doe tour dates, according to Doe's manager:
- 8/17 - Portland, OR @ The Satyricon (Doe solo)
- 8/18 - Seattle, WA @ Experience Music Project
- 8/19 - Seattle, WA @ Crocodile Cafe (Doe solo)
- 9/7 - San Diego, CA @ Street Scene
- 9/22 - Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre
- 9/23 - Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre