X-Ray Spex started on the punk scene early in 1976. Headed by the fashion furore that is Poly Styrene, they released one of the greatest punk albums of all time, Germ Free Adolescence. Poly’s atomic voice belts through the album, rising in places to a tumultuous pitch only to come crashing down again, all to the honking fits of Lora Logic’s sax. It is from this boisterous land mark album that most of the songs performed on Live @ the Roundhouse London 2008 are taken.
After 13 years of hidden agendas, the album showcases the band’s coming together for one final ‘hurrah’ at the punk-hall-of-fame, the London Roundhouse. It was here that the Ramones played their first U.K. gig and here that The Slits decided to make music while watching Patti Smith. Starting off with that iconic up-yours to male dominated music ‘Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard, but I think…’ the live album includes a DVD of the performance, excerpts from Poly’s Diary of the 70’s and all their defining tracks plus some newies. I Am A Cliché, is there, as well as Genetic Engineering, Art-I-Ficial and of course Germ Free Adolescence. Although Styrene’s voice has subsided a little (it has been thirty years) when she reaches for those frenetic high pitched shrieks on Oh Bondage Up Yours! she still has this way of making it all about the attitude.
You may like to hold the Spex up as a tribute to the struggles of feminism, an apt critique of consumer culture or maybe just as the rebellious, shit-stirring fun that was punk. Either way you win!