X were one of the leaders of the early L.A. punk scene, and one of the best punk bands ever. They had great songs from singer/bassist John Doe and singer Exene Cervenka, and powered it with some of the best instrumental work in the genre. Billy Zoom is a brilliant guitarist (with a ton of rockabilly influence) and D.J. Bonebrake is an equally amazing drummer. Their first three albums have been reissued (each with bonus tracks), and I presume the rest of catalog will follow in 2002.

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Los Angeles

X came blazing out the door with a high-energy mix of punk, rockabilly, and the off-kilter harmonies of John Doe and Exene. "Your Phone's Off The Hook, But You're Not" kicks off the album with a blasted Chuck Berry riff and a witty, angry lyric to go with. "Johny Hit And Run Paulene" paints a distubing picture of a date rapist, and "Los Angeles" has a similar study of racism. A classic debut. The bonus tracks include the first track X ever recorded, the original version of "Los Angeles".

tracks: "Your Phone's Off The Hook, But You're Not", "Johny Hit And Run Paulene", "Soul Kitchen", "Nausea", "Sugarlight", "Los Angeles", "Sex And Dying In High Society", "The Unheard Music", "The World's A Mess, It's In My Kiss"

bonus tracks: "I'm Coming Over" [Demo], "Adult Books" [Dangerhouse Rough Mix], "Delta 88" [Demo], "Cyrano De Berger's Back" [Rehearsal], "Los Angeles" [Dangerhouse Version]

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Wild Gift

Wild Gift continues in a similar vein to Los Angeles, although with songs that aren't quite as memorable (but they're close). "The Once Over Twice", "White Girl" and "In This House That I Call Home" are my personal highlights, but Wild Gift is a solid album overall.

tracks: "The Once Over Twice", "We're Desperate", "Adult Books", "Universal Corner", "I'm Coming Over", "It's Who You Know", "In This House That I Call Home", "Some Other Time", "White Girl", "Beyond And Back", "Back 2 The Base", "When Our Love Passed Out On The Couch", "Year 1", "Beyond And Back"

bonus tracks: "Blue Spark" [Demo], "We're Desperate" [Single Version], "Back 2 The Base", "Heater" [Rehearsal], "White Girl" [Single Mix], "The Once Over Twice" [Unissued Single Mix]

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Under The Big Black Sun

On their third album, X started mixing things up a bit with fantastic results. Under The Big Black Sun combines the punk power of the first two records with the 50's-style ballad "Come Back To Me" (an elegy for Exene's sister), the straight-forward rock of "The Have Nots", and the stunning opener, "The Hungry Wolf". A masterpiece, and X's best album.

tracks: "The Hungry Wolf", "Motel Room In My Bed", "Riding With Mary", "Come Back To Me", "Under The Big Black Sun", "Because I Do", "Blue Spark", "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes", "Real Child Of Hell", "How I (Learned My Lesson)", "The Have Nots"

bonus tracks: "Riding With Mary" [Single Version], "El Paso / Because I Do" [Rehearsal / TV Mix], "Universal Corner", "Breathless" [Single Mix], "How I (Learned My Lesson)" [live]