X-Ray Spex - Germ Free Adolescents [expanded] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

X-Ray Spex

Germ Free Adolescents [expanded] (2005)


X-Ray Spex were definitely one of the best early UK punk bands. Germ Free Adolescents has recently been reissued with bonus tracks, including single tracks and two Peel sessions. Usually the bonus tracks on a CD are not as good as the actual album, but in this case, that's not true. X-Ray Spex's singles, many of which were re-recorded for the album, are just as good as the album tracks. This is especially true of the standout "Oh! Bondage Up Yours!," the most famous X-Ray song. It's a speedy punk anthem with screechy vocals from one of the best female vocalists I've heard, Poly Styrene, and a catchy sax line.

As a whole, the album is really fun, fast, and a little more silly than, say, the Sex Pistols (they were just unintentionally funny). Poly Styrene's vocals vary between pissed-off punk to child-like innocence, and the guitar has a thick, well-produced sound. X-Ray Spex was mostly known for having a saxophone player, which, while not essential to the songs (except "Oh! Bondage…"), makes them more interesting than a lot of crappy `77 bands.

This is a really good album, but not great. The lyrics aren't clichéd, but they don't have a lot of substance: "Freddie tried to strangle me / With my plastic popper beads / But I hit him back / With my pet rat." Also, the sax can get a little annoying after 14 or 15 songs of barely proficient squeaking.

Still, it's great. For fans of the Ramones, Buzzcocks, and Bikini Kill.