Friday, 29 April 2011


I've always regarded certain bands as unsung heroes in the Punk movement. The Adverts, Chelsea, UK Subs, 999 and The Lurkers are just a few of the groups who delivered some great vinyl and exhilarating live performances while never quite receiving the recognition they deserved. X-Ray Spex were another of those bands, led by the wonderful Poly Styrene.

Marianne Elliot was born in 1957, and burst onto the music scene some 19 years later. Like many of our most revered punk artists, Poly became inspired to form a band after witnessing a Sex Pistols gig, and so X-Ray Spex were born.
In September 1977, their first single lit up the airwaves. "Oh Bondage Up Yours" with its wild, wailing saxophone and Poly's call-to-arms vocals, Bondage was a thrilling declaration of intent from what would turn out to be one hugely important band.
You name the event, and Spex seemed to be there. The Roxy, Front Row Festival and Rock Against Racism were just a few of the events graced by the group who picked up a loyal army of fans.

November 1978 saw the eagerly awaited debut album, "Germ Free Adolescents". Happily, this album lived up to expectations, with bags of attitude and some blistering music: just listen to "Identity" some 33 years on and it still packs a devastating punch.
In 1979, the band split up, with Poly releasing a solo album before joining the Hare Krishna movement. X-Ray Spex did reform a couple of times in the '90s, and released an album - "Conscious Consumer" - but an accident put paid to Poly's hopes of recording a trilogy of records based on her beloved theme of consumerism.
Happily, it was damn nigh impossible to quell her spirit, and a new album - "Generation Indigo" - came about as a result of a collaboration with former Killing Joke member Youth. It's an excellent album, too, with musical contributions from Youth,Culture and former Slits guitarist Viv Albertine.

Sadly, Poly Styrene lost her battle against cancer on 25th August. Like Joe Strummer, Poly was exactly the kind of person you think will go on forever. She was a true pioneering woman, and will be so very sadly missed and so very fondly remembered.

RIP and thanks for some great gigs and vinyl.