X-Ray Spex – Identity

X Ray Spex – Identity // Lets Submerge (EMI Records) 1978. Continuing my run of classic UK punk 45s, this is X-Ray Spex with Identity. Was there ever a more literate and wise 20 year old than Poli Styrene? Don’t say Bob Dylan because I will have to punch you in the face. I mean Poli saw the problem before any of us and was decrying the mass commercialization and commodification of our capitalist systems with braces on. And she did it from a uniquely feminine perspective. As someone who existed willingly outside the “beauty norm”, she decried how society mass-markets standards of attractiveness and the effects that this has on personal identity. In fact she does this on the A-Side. She encouraged listeners to submerge into underground channels and develop their own ideas about what is important in life. Natch…B-Side. And if I am making this sound like some dour Crass-fest, let me add that she did it with a big smile. The band marketed itself in the most Day-Glo, fun, upbeat and ironic way possible, as if to say, we are going to use your tools against you and rock out. The addition of sax in the band, may, along with Poli’s unique vocal styling, be the most obvious touch-point for listeners. But it’s the lyrics that will blow you away when you start digging deeper. Sadly, Poli became a bit of a casualty case after this. She did a lot of drugs and went Krishna. A few years back they reformed and did some recordings. Her focus was still on the same subjects and the music was very good. But you just can’t beat the youthful exuberance of these early recording.

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3 Responses to X-Ray Spex – Identity

  1. jeffen says:

    Bob Dyl-
    Ow! That really hurt.
    Love the X-Ray Spex and his Bobness.

  2. Jenny says:

    yer a genius

  3. Tim says:

    Frighteningly good band – they were actually a top 20 UK chart band in their day. I doubt youngens would know that if they come accross the band.
    I once worked with a guy that was X-Ray Spex’s first drummer (this is my lame punk claim to fame, oh that and I used to know George from Action Pact) he said he lied about his age to get in the band – he said he was younger! He got kicked out before they recorded anything. He also played in Freddie Mercury’s first band IBEX WRECKAGE — which did about one gig; so there y’go, a link between QUEEN & X RAY SPEX

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