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X-Ray Spex

Live at the Roxy CD

Say what you like about X Ray Spex, but they never let their audience off easily. Even at the peak of their shortlived success, London's Hammersmith Odeon just two years after scratching a living at the nearby Man In The Moon, the band blistered through a set of such intensity that its absolute brevity really didn't sink in until you tried to remember where the rest of the evening went. Track back to the band's infancy, and they made the Ramones sound like a tortoise race. Live At The Roxy is as brutal as the band's reputation suggests. Recorded at the same show as the band's contribution to the 1977 Live At The Roxy various artists album, it opens and closes with hideously discordant versions of the intent-laden "Oh Bondage! Up Yours", a cacophonic saxophone defying the punk wisdom that the instrument had no place in the new discipline, while the remainder of the band alternately staggers and swaggers through a riff so monotonal that Poly Styrene herself sounds tuneful. Not once does the energy level dip, with versions of "Identity" and "Let's Submerge" already hinting at the shrieking magnificence of their eventual studio incarnations. And hindsight, battered by two decades worth of noise bands that make Ray Spex sound symphonic, readily adjusts to the crunchy caterwauling that was the infant group's stock in trade. But the audience response - bothered, bewildered and bemused - reminds you just how far off the beaten track X Ray Spex once marched, and 25 minutes seems to stretch out to an eternity. What a wonderful record this is! -- Dave Thompson
item # 9880
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