Generation X – Your Generation

Generation X – Your Generation // Day By Day (Chrysalis Records) 1977. A lot of people discovered punk rock via Generation X. Not me….but a lot of people. I was in Junior High when Rebel Yell hit and it was definitely an MTV pop-culture sensation. In order to cash in, Camelot Records at the local mall started stocking LPs by Billy’s old band Generation X. Now Generation X were always a pop-leaning combo with some pinup-worthy band members so they didn’t have a hard time catching on with the image hungry suburban new wave kids of 1983. I’ve often wondered how many kids started with Generation X and moved into other things like I did with The Sex Pistols. Probably not that many.

To, to those of us who were already punk rockers, Billy was a difficult subject to tackle. We could all agree that Rebel Yell, Eyes Without a Face and all that shit sucked. Billy was a very blatant case of “selling out”. But some of us, if we were honest with ourselves, thought the White Wedding video was pretty cool and even though we thought Billy Idol was a tool, it was hard not to love the early Generation X tracks. I heard the band the first time on Burning Ambitions which as long time readers know, was my introduction to punk, playing the A-Side of this single and it stood equally alongside other class of 77′ acts like Wire, ATV and X- Ray Spex. Your Generation is like a glam version of The Ramones which is probably exactly what they were going for. It is an amazingly cool punk rock track and the B-Side is no slouch either. It’s all freakin’ cotton candy for the ears.

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16 Responses to Generation X – Your Generation

  1. Marcel says:

    Aww Billy Idol, when I was a weee fifth grader Rebel Yell came out, and I just had to have it. I thought it was the most kick ass hardest music I heard. So I searched out Dancing with myself and White Wedding (that video with those girls in tight leather pants made my fifth grade mind and loins race). I was already getting into alternative music B52′s, DEVO, Specials, but not Gen X. However living in SoCal, I had KROQ and Rodney Bingenheimer to guide me on my downfall. One afternoon before Halloween in 1984 I heard a little song at the tender age of 12. I heard a band that changed my life forever. Two guesses who. After that, Idol was lame and punk and Maximum RnR was the coolest shit ever. It took another 3 years before I started listening to Generation X, and now I’m 37, I love some of it but alot of it just too much fluff. Not my fave 1977 band, I’m more of a Boys, Buzzcocks and ATV person.
    I do love Generation X’s little bit on the Sex Pistols movie DOA, along with the Xray Spex stuff, totally fucking golden.

  2. Scott says:

    I posted about Generation X on FB the other day. The first 2 albums were a big influence on me (especially the drumming — Mark Laff, I think), and “Kiss Me Deadly” is one of my favorite songs ever.

    I said in that post that I thought they were totally underappreciated, and someone posted back something to the effect of “if Billy Idol hadn’t been such a douchebag later on, things might be different”. Maybe. Johnny Rotten’s a douchebag generally, and it didn’t seem to hurt the Pistol’s legacy…

    Anyway, as far as later Idol goes, yeah, the MTV crap blows. But I will say this: Steve Stevens can fucking PLAY.

  3. garychching says:

    You guys make be feel so old. I was around when this came out, and even then (I know this sounds pretentious and it was) the “real” punks thought generation x were a kids band. Punk was very snobby at that time and I bought these singles and the first album secretly, never admitting to my mates that I actually liked them or even owned them.

    One of the reasons he wasn’t liked is that Billy Idol wanted fame, and he got it, and looking back who could blame him. But at the time , looking for fame wasn’t really the ethos of punk, so lots of people felt he’d sold out on day one. So never really set-out to win over the punks and therefore was never liked by them (well in public anyway. I still have my original albums and singles and I still play them, the only difference now is I admit it).

  4. Joe says:

    Marcel – Black Flag? Circle Jerks?

    Scott – I must have missed that post the other day? Weird case of synchronicity. “if Billy Idol hadn’t been such a douchebag later on, things might be different”.” I dont know if I agree with that statement either. How would things be different. Most people at least like the first Gen X album, Billy is fabulously wealthy…what would they want to be different?

    Gary — Its good to have the “person who was there” input! Its funny how similar the class of 77 punks were to the HC punks of the 1980s. Legitimacy was always the big decider and the slightest appearance of pandering to your audience would make you look like a poseur. Billy was pretty transparent with his pandering (from day one, it sounds).

  5. Scott says:

    Joe – The thread on FB puts in to better context than I wrote above, but basically it was a conversation between me and Ryan Snowden. My point was that I thought Gen X always managed to get left out of the conversation when discussing the Class of ’77, and Ryan suggested it was because of Idol’s later career. But after reading Gary’s comment above, maybe things would not have been different, if people didn’t take them seriously even back in the day (which does surprise me a bit because Gen X was well liked by the punks I grew up around in 1980′s San Francisco). But Gary’s post puts it all into a better perspective, at least for me.

  6. Chris Shary says:

    I got into punk via Billy Idol. It lead me to Generation X, the Clash and the Sex Pistols. Since then I have spent the past 25 years into hardcore and punk. Who’d have thought Billy could do that?

  7. Marcel says:

    Dead Kennedys – “Halloween,” is the answer, and I ran to my grandmother and asked her if she’d take me the record store, and I bought Plastic Surgery Distasters and never looked back.

  8. Marcel says:

    Well, like Chris, I guess Billy Idol was kinda of a jumping off point to punk, like all those other “new wave” bands I mentioned earlier.

    Looking back at the class of ’77, so many of them sold out. It was a big cash cow! When I was “harder then thou,” sell outs and posuers were bullshit, but for the past ten years, I say who fucking cares. You’re closing yourself off to tons of great music. Yeah, I have more respect for bands that were not in it for the money or fame, but I won’t shut myself off from a bunch of music that makes me pogo!

  9. Andrew Weiss says:

    I tend to think of Blidol (the wife’s nickname for him) sharing the same relationship to punk that bands like Poison bore to, say, Motorhead or Anthrax…..the main difference being that I can stomach “Rebel Yell” but not “Unskinny Bop.”

  10. jonder says:

    Derwood is a great guitarist. Have you heard his post-Gen X band Empire?

  11. Niels says:

    Brilliant record; a-side as well as the b-side! Like you, I heard this first on Burning Ambitions… Has there ever been a better early (UK) punk comp? No Pistols and Clash (I’m still waiting for the punk doc that won’t mention either band), almost all debut singles, and starting off with the triple punch of Buzzcocks/Fall/Wire!
    Generation X were dogged by street cred problems from the start; one rock mag slagged them for drinking orange juice during an interview; the reason they drank it was they’d just gotten shots for VD!

  12. Joseph says:

    RE: Empire – listening to this for the first time right now, up to track 6, and it’s quite nice. Funny thing is I’ve known about this record for almost 20 years, since it was a big hit with the DC crowd. I did a phone interview with J. Robbins of Jawbox for my two issue fanzine back around 1991 (the issue came out like three years later. Ridiculous, I know) where he sited Empire as a big influence. There is an old post over at the Underneathica blog from July of ’06 where the DC connection is mentioned, also. I think the CD is available from Dischord’s web store, though I’m poor as a churchmouse right now, listening to a rip from Punk Not Profit. I would’ve bought this back in the day, but it was scarce in my neck of the woods.
    And old Gen X? Sounds fine to me!

  13. Bruce George Wingate says:

    I love that first Gen X record! It’s got some blistering guitar work on it. I think I first heard them on one of those 20 OF ANOTHER KIND compilations, back when Sam Goody carried Jem Imports.

    Billy Idol shot some footage for a video (Dancing With Myself, maybe?)…at the Capital Theater in Passaic, NJ and a few members of Sacred Denial got thrown out for stage diving. They used it in the video, natch.

  14. Tim says:

    Niels is right BURNING AMBITIONS is the greatest punk comp ever, obviously put together by people that knew & loved the music.
    My fav Generation X track though is one of the B Side’s of Friday’s Angels – “THIS HEAT” ; first bought that single as a 13 yr old in ’79 – and I’m still into that track – all 2 minutes of it.

  15. Chad says:

    Billy Idol is the reason that you are all still talking about any of this wannabe crap. GEN X went far without him, not…he was GEN X and Billy like it or not brought you all here….recognize.

  16. Joe says:

    @Chad – next time you see Billy Idol, thank him for inventing punk for me!

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