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This review is from: Germ Free Adolescents (Audio CD)
You reach a certain age, you've done a few things in your life, you're relatively 'comfortable'...then you get the urge to 'go back' and discover what all the fuss was about, re-acquaint yourself with the sounds that informed your youth - the ones you didn't keep in touch with - and see at the same time if your memory's not seriously out of kilter. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't...
'GERM FREE ADOLESCENTS' by X-Ray Spex always shone out for 'Identity' and 'Oh! Bondage Up Yours!', but I remember being pretty indifferent to the remaining tracks on their one and only album. Wrong. Taken as a whole, it's a superb thing of its time. Poly Styrene (c/w a don't-give-a-toss-what-you-think punk moniker, ah bless) may have sung with a voice designed to curdle milk but there's no escaping the pure energy of her performance, including some marvellous Johnny rrrRotten-like vocal phrasing. The fact that she also wrote every song on the album is an amazing revelation, especially when you consider how thin on the ground female contemporaries were at such a musically explosive point in history. Of course there were exceptions, but not to this degree. The girl was a bona-fide all round frontman and no mistake.
Aided by some decent guitar, bass, drums and limited keyboard, songs such as 'Art-I-Ficial', I Am A Cliche', 'The Day The World Turned DayGlo', 'Plastic Bag' and 'Genetic Engineering' kick, scream and squeak their way into the consciousness, if anything sounding more fresh today than they did back then. It's a bit of an irony, therefore, that bandmember Laura Logic's sax - in beefing up the basic punk rock sound - manages occasionally to recall the ghost of (deep breath) GLAM rock. Fortunately, (and thankfully) her contributions are, on the whole, too gritty to throw any serious anachronistic spanners into the works.
Bonus Tracks and Peel Sessions complete the album - literally - and represent X-Ray Spex's total recorded output. Sad, in one way, as we have nothing to assess regarding musical progression and what might have been, post punk. But good in another, because what we do have, however small, is very good indeed.
The germ (and snot and gob) free Marion Elliot of today should be proud of her legacy.