Monday, February 14, 2011

Germfree Adolescents Expanded
Blender, 2005

by Simon Reynolds

Barging in front of the Sex Pistols’ and Buzzcocks’ debuts, Germfree Adolescents is the best British punk album EVER. What clinches it is the sheer raunch of X-Ray Spex’s sound. Everything in the music--the punk-boogie grooves, the saxophone’s braying insolence, the blasting blare of Poly Styrene’s vocals--swings and jives. Heard at its utmost on “Art-I-Ficial” and “Let’s Submerge,” the result is a noise so powerful and so fine that sometimes all can you do is laugh out loud. Far from being date-stamped “1978”, Styrene’s lyrics--blistering diatribes against consumer society and mass-marketed youth exploitation--are more pertinent and penetrating than ever. Eventually the contradictions of having her own rebellion turned into a commodity (explored here humorously, with “Warrior in Woolworths,” and anguishedly, on “Identity”) caused the singer to have a breakdown. This expanded reissue adds the crucial early single “Oh! Bondage Up Yours!,” punk defiance at its most in-your-face, plus a pair of nice but inessential BBC radio sessions.

how weird for Poly to have her story/sound turned into a movie

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