Thursday, November 18, 2010

X: Live at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go L.P.

I bought X's Under the Big Black Sun for my older brother from Records on Wheels when I was 14. It was an intimidating experience walking down that dark narrow corridor of a room and purchasing a record that I couldn't justify if attacked by the staff (Ask any middle-aged Winnipeg music enthusiast about the belligerence of certain ROW employees, it'll make High Fidelity look all Disney). At home, I absorbed those off-kilter songs while I pored over the album and traced the inky illustrations that flowed across the lyric sheet, never realizing that X were covertly re-introducing me to country music!

To this day, It's hard to say X sounded like anybody. What echoes of others you could hear; Chuck Berry, the Jefferson Airplane, Patti Smith, The Ramones just showed how deeply American this "unheard music" of theirs was. This out-of-print double live L.P. (yup it had more tracks then the also out-of-print CD version), despite being minus rockabilly raver Billy Zoom, recaps the band's career very well.

Speaking of comments, please leave one telling us about your first time hearing X.







  1. Growing up in LA. I saw X too many times to count. I've seen them as the country group The Knitters, John Doe solo, Exene and DJ Bonebrake together, Exene solo. Billy Zoom throughout many incarnations from angry and pissed because he wasn't in the band any longer to when he became born again. Reunions lately have seemed to give each member a new spark. Recently Exene has announced that she has MS, a good thought or prayer from everyone would be appreciated. Thanks for the memories, the driving beat of X, the smell of beer and my thoughts of my boots sticking to the floor at the Roxy bring a smile to my face. Luc

  2. Out of print?

    Damn you, WEA and Rhino records! This is the good stuff!

    Sides Two and Four blaze with such a tightness and definitely 'set the trash on fire', this has to be heard!

    Awesome stuff.

    Knitters is next?

    Or do we go Rank and File?

  3. I own this one and it's pretty good, but you really can't beat X with Billy Zoom. He really makes a big difference.

  4. Excellent post man! I love your blog, you have great taste.

  5. Thanks for this Live album!! I've never heard of it before! Grrreat blog!!

  6. I was a budding college "journalist" (and I use that term very loosely)when the album came out. I got to go to a press conference with X and we all listened to the album around a big table. It was way cool.

  7. I still have my original battered cassette copy of this though it don't play so swell. Much oblige!

  8. an amazing band that I have seen soooo many times. X are an American classic. Nice post. I loved this album when it came out and love the newer live one with Billy Zoom playing. Tony Gilkyson was a great player too. I saw them at San Jose St. with both Gilkyson and Dave Alvin playing guitar, right after Billy had many people are jealous with that one!

  9. Oh ROW! As a one-time ROW employee in Edm., I also have memories of the outfit. And I found your High Fidelity reference spooky as I not only had meaningless conversations about mix tapes and the like, but had a physical altercation in the store that Hornby and crew errily captured in their book and production. Throughout the movie, my wife giggled and pointed- over and over again my life was on the big screen. Looking forward to the X download- first time I heard X was in, you got it- ROW!

  10. First time I heard X- must have been the Decline soundtrack. Buncha pretty stiff competition, but man those dual vocals! I'll always love these guys.

    Saw them in, what was it, 2008 already, on the Los Angeles 30th anniversary tour. Took a couple of my under-30 friends, who were suitably awed and/or RAWKED by it.

    Don't have a dog in the Billy Zoom fight- I do love Tony Gilkyson too, he was great backing up Exene, too. But then again, Billy Zoom is like some kinda ageless/eternal incarnation of rock and roll. Didn't know about the born again thing- but it doesn't explain

  11. -- dang, man, too much Lone Star --
    it doesn't explain the permasmile- he's always been like that, as far as I can tell, he's like the audioanimatronic avatar of rock and roll guitar . Yeah, god bless X, and even though I don't pray, maybe I'll try to fire one off for Exene.


  12. Great, thanks, have treasured my vinyl copy - it came with a backstage pass sticker, which I proudly stuck on my guitar case and felt like the coolest guy in town. Although noone knew who the hell X were.

  13. My friend had a copy of "Los Angeles" b/c Ray Manzerek was on it/produced it and my friend was rather taken with the Doors at the time. It scared us. A year later, braver, I heard "Wild Gift," bought it, and became obsessed with a lot of the LA scene, led by Exene and John. Dream Syndicate, Green on Red, Blasters, Minutemen, Black Flag . . . all disclosed to me thanks to X's mentoring. How's Exene doing, BTW? I heard she was quite ill (MS?) Thanks for the reminder of their sublimity.

  14. I saw X a few years back at the 9:30 Club in DC. We got there early and spotted John Doe walking around upstairs. We went up to say hello, he was amazingly friendly and conversive. I love X. Thanks.

  15. I have yet to see anyone thanking Ray Manzarek for giving X the break that first broke the band unto most of us. Well, the clock says it's time to close, now!!!! Thanks, Ray!

  16. My first punk rock record was X's Los Angeles.. which was apropos, as i was already way into the Doors (at age 13).. i was blown away(understatement).. Never got to see them live (closest i got was DJ Bonebreak backing up Syd Straw in NYC).. i bought this on lp and later on cd, but was disappointed that the cd left out "call of the wreckingball" which was one of my fave previously unknown tunes on the double album.. so THANKS!


    I LOVE THEM...





    You were great (hence why I could make a whole post just from your comments)

    Thanks for all your support!

  19. Thanks for writing about X.

    The first time I heard them was through the movie -The Decline of Western Civilization-. And they've become one of my all-times.

    I downloaded the music from the link you provided...but it doesn't seem to be the entire live double LP. For example, "True Love" is a studio version and "In the Time It Takes" doesn't appear, though both of them were on the original double LP.

    If you have the release in its entirety and could post it, that'd be great. (Let me know at if you would please.)

    Thanks for your time and kudos for giving press to X.

  20. I first heard X around 1982, because The Hungry Wolf was getting airtime on MTV. For a few years, my brother and I just referred to them as 'that band with the guitarist with the creepy grin' and a few years after that, my brother bought Under The Big Black Sun on LP and we played it a good amount. The true power of X hit me as I got older, hearing all of their stuff, seeing The Unheard Music (still one of my all time favorite movies), I simply couldn't imagine my life without them.

  21. Gotta find "the unheard music' someday

  22. Hate I missed this link. Been looking for a full-length LP rip for a long time.


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