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X - Wild Gift (Cover Artwork)

X

X: Wild GiftWild Gift (1981)
Slash Records

Reviewer Rating: 5
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Contributed by: JeloneJelone
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While they were part of the original '77 run of punk bands, seminal California act X couldn't get a proper record deal until Slash Records came along and released Los Angeles in 1980. The one upside to this delay: By the time they hooked up with Slash, X started dropping records at a rapid clip. Jus.
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While they were part of the original '77 run of punk bands, seminal California act X couldn't get a proper record deal until Slash Records came along and released Los Angeles in 1980. The one upside to this delay: By the time they hooked up with Slash, X started dropping records at a rapid clip. Just over a year after Los Angeles came out, X was back again the fantastic Wild Gift.

Los Angeles is where you go if you want to hear X at its most raw. The tunes sound dirty and threatening, and that goes double for the lyrics (See "Johnny Hit and Run Paulene"). Wild Gift, though, marks the band's progression towards a more rockabilly approach. Given that the tunes were either '70s leftovers ("I'm Coming Over," "It's Who You Know") or brand new reactions from the recently married songwriting team of Exene Cervenka and John Doe ("White Girl," "In This House That I Call Home"), it's about as literally a crossroads record as one can get.

Some of the tracks ("We're Desperate," "Adult Books") date all the way back to a 1978 single. "We're Desperate" probably could have been on Los Angeles, but "Adult Books" marks new musical territory for the band, as drummer D.J. Bonebreak and guitarist Billy Zoom rock out a Latin groove as Cervenka and Doe spin another yarn about urban destitution. Another shift can be heard in "White Girl." While Zoom's guitar is as menacing as ever, the band lets mood take precedence over a fast tempo.

Really, though, X's biggest change was in the lyrics. Writing about despair and desolation was always Cervenka and Doe's m.o., but here they start writing about each other. "Beyond and Back" covers their spats ("You took a lot from me / I forgot you were a thief"). "White Girl" expresses Doe's secret lust for another woman. "When Our Love Passed Out on the Couch" retroactively sums up the couple's whole relationship.

Ultimately, though, these differences are miniscule. Ain't Love Grand aside, there's a line that stretches through all of X's records. Wild Gift picks up plenty of the darkness heard on Los Angeles while laying the groundwork for the country leanings of Under the Big Black Sun. If anything, it's like a psychobilly record without any horror or sci-fi themes to hide behind, and it's that kind of grit that makes it one of the saddest and greatest punk albums of all time.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
NintendoJones (November 22, 2011)

My favorite X album, great to see it get a review.

rubyx (November 22, 2011)

Hippies couldn't understand jealousy because they believed in universal love; punks can't understand it because they believe sex is a doomed reflex of existentially discrete monads. As X-Catholics obsessed with a guilt they can't accept and committed to a subculture that gives them no peace, Exene and John Doe are prey to both misconceptions, and their struggle with them is thrilling and edifying--would the Ramones could cop to such wisdom. Who knows whether the insightful ministrations of their guitarist will prove as therapeutic for them as for you and me, but I say trust a bohemian bearing gifts. How often do we get a great love album and a great punk album in the same package? A
- Robert Christgau

half_Idiot (November 22, 2011)

Hands down the best X record.

DrGunn (November 22, 2011)

it's a really good album, but definitely not as good as los angeles. there's a certain sense of edge and danger on that album that they completely lost afterwards.

Rich27 (November 22, 2011)

A cracking record from a cracking band!

mattramone (November 22, 2011)

Also, maybe my favorite thing about this band is that John and Exene would write blatant songs about cheating on each other and then force the other one to sing it or sing on it. You just don't get they kind of fucked upness anymore.

mattramone (November 22, 2011)

I spent an entire summer one year listening to this, and only this, album on my daily 3 hour roundtrip train commute. Pretty sure it's scratched into my soul at this point.

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