Between now and April 12, Fat Possum Records is reissuing the first four albums by pioneering L.A. punk rock band X. March 22 will see the release of Wild Gift, while on April 12 both Under the Big Black Sun and More Fun in the New World will come out. But last week, before all that, we were treated to the new edition of the band's classic 1980 Los Angeles debut.
This isn't the first time the album has been given a dust 'n' polish treatment; in 2001, Rhino Records released it with five demos and remixes accompanying the nine original songs. There is no sign of those five tracks this time. Rather, Fat Possum has included live versions of “Soul Kitchen,” “Sugarlight” and “Your Phone's Off the Hook, but You're Not.”
The album, of course, is a bona fide masterpiece. Produced by The Doors' Ray Manzarek, the album includes a cover of The Doors' song “Soul Kitchen” from their '67 self-titled debut. It's impressive that X took one of The Doors' more lifeless psychedelic dirges and turned it into something so fresh and fun. That Manzarek was involved in the recording has always been fascinating. Legend tells that, prior to working with the band, he saw X live and fell in love when he heard their hyper-fast cover of “Soul Kitchen” (he didn't initially recognize it).
The record just consistently rips. The opening “Your Phone's Off the Hook, but You're Not,” as well as having an awesome title, kicks the album off in ferocious fashion, while “Johnny Hit and Run Paulene” retains the heat.
The title track is one of the band's more infamous and beloved. It's also often misunderstood because of some incendiary lyrics, but it's very clearly about a racist idiot who “had to leeeaaave” L.A. in order to live in a less culturally diverse environment. Written about a type of person the band members would come across rather than one specific person, it's a song that is as relevant today as ever. One can only hope that every other racist leaves L.A. as well.
Los Angeles is an album that every fan of punk rock, and rock & roll in general, should own. If you don't, this new reissue is a must.