La Voz del Norte

10 June 2010

A to Z…Catching Up ~ X

Filed under: La Voz del Norte — la voz @ 10:48 am

X – Me in Los Angeles in 1980…

Music used to be the world. Now it is just a continent or 2. I look back at my misguided youth and can pinpoint a few events that could very easily be considered “life-changing.” Grade school’s soundtrack was played on 93 KHJ, one time known as “Boss Radio,” and by the early 70s we little 13 year olds listened to the Top 30 hits like “Brandy,” “Bennie and the Jets,” some hip stuff by the Hues Corporation and some bad ass guitar induced pop by the Isley Brothers. Mixed into this lot were some good old drop the clothes Soul…Barry White, Billy Paul (Me and Mrs. Jones), The Stylistics. Mmhmmm some mighty fine pickin and a singin. And then sometime in the spring of 1975 somewhere in Southern California…well 8:00pm, Wednesday March 12, 1975 at Long Beach Arena, this 8th grade kid went to see a little band known as Led Zeppelin. They started with Rock and Roll and right into Sick Again. Then came Over the Hills and Far Away, In My Time of Dying, and by the time they rang out The Song Remains the Same (started twice due to a guitar patch cord failure), something changed in this kid’s life. My my hey hey. It was here to stay.

Now most of my friends suddenly became teenyboppers. Here was the top 3 songs of that week: 3: LOVIN’ YOU – MINNIE RIPERTON 2: LADY MARMALADE – LABELLE 1: MY EYES ADORED YOU – FRANKIE VALLI. How could you ever take that shit seriously again after having spent 3 plus hours listening to Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham at their best blasting through that smoky arena? You couldn’t. I couldn’t. Only dweebs wanted to hear Olivia Neutron Bomb singing about Being Mellow or Leo Effing Sayer singing about anything. The world had changed.

Onward thru the Fog! as the label once said… Next stop, 1977ish. By now most of me old mates had caught up and put away their childish AM radio for the powerpop tunes that came across the FM stalwarts of KMET (whoo-ya) and KLOS. Paraquat Kelly and Jim Ladd played some tunes and bongs were passed about…everyone was groovin. Zeppelin, Sabbath, Rush, Neil Young, Queen, The Stones, fucking Boston, Aerosmith, Foreigner, Kiss, Bowie, Journey…these were high fucking times man. Powerpop in its Prime. Almost everyone I knew was gettin high and blasting 94.7 or 95.5 on the Eff Em Dial. Life.Was.Great! So then I meet a young lady who talked me in to going to yet another concert…this one at the Hated Grounds of UCLA in Westwood. Some free concert by a stairway and some band I had never heard of. It wouldn’t be the first or the last concert I went to on a whim. This band had a funny name, a goofy singer, a friggin girl playing the bass. They played this song I will never forget, “Take Me to the River.” They were so much different than any of the crap we were listening to on the LA FM Titans KMET or KLOS. Now most of my friends suddenly became burnouts. Who the hell wanted to listen to The Eagles sing about some whacked out hotel or Foreigner with their stupid rhymes. I mean who gives a shit if it is urgent or not? There were Psycho Killers afoot. New Wave was here to stay…

New Wave, I hate to say, wasn’t a hit with many of the folkies I knew, but it was the good stuff. Next stop, 1980. FM 106.7 KROQ in Pasa-Dena played some awesome stuff and there was an even better station out of Long Beach, Rock n Rhythm KNAC that had the grandest library of any station.Ever. Cool DJs, easy access via phone. I could call in and request nearly any song I wanted, and within minutes it would be on the air. New Wave Greats like Suburban Lawns, T-Heads, Devo, Elvis Costello, Blondie, B-52s, Pretenders, Boingo, Missing Persons…these were great times man. New Wave at its absolute best! I was converting people to the New Wave movement of KROQ, roq of the 80s and 105.5 KNAC. Then along comes another young lady who talked me into going to yet another concert…this one at a place called the “Whisky-a-Go-Go” up on Sunset. As we drive toward the place I see on the marquee “Ray Manzarek” and I think to myself that this will be some Doors revival. Not all bad but what they hell. My companion was kinda cute. Hehe. Entering the club I notice a much different crowd than I was used to hanging with. Mixed in among the few “normal” people were a whole lotta punks. LA Punks. Not quite the likes of which one would see at New Wave Thursdays at El Paso Cantina. There was a forgettable opening act, I think…and as the speed rush starts to kick in, onto the stage comes this remarkable 4 piece band simply known as “X.” Exene and John Doe just flying. Billy Zoom playing an amazing guitar with his feet planted in concrete. DJ Bonebrake pounding the drums. Unforgettable music. My friends, the burnouts, still listened to the e v e r s o s l o w r o c k b a n d s. The bands I had once admired were now a bunch of fucking boring old guys. They played with no energy. They played with no soul. Punk had LIFE.

The 80s raged on. I look at the Punk and New Wave standouts from the like 80-83 and think that this was the best musical time ever. Some of the British Invasion bands from the 60s now made perfect sense. The Who, respect, were the original punk band. The Mods…damn they were good. I saw them play just a couple of nights before I saw X. The Who was great, even with the recent passing of Keith Moon. Kenny Jones did a stellar job. But they weren’t life changing. X was. Punk became a way of life, a style, and a culture all its own. The few years following that night in 1980 were littered with countless nights at the Hollywood clubs listening to all manner of bands, some great, some not so. The Motels, The Bang!s (soon to be known as the Bangles), Boingo, Fear, Black Flag, Missing Persons, Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies, Josie Cotton, Martha and the Muffins, Pearl Harbor and the Explosions…the list was amazing. I even found time to see some big shows in 1980…The Eagles, Rush, Fleetwood Mac at the Bowl, Heart at the Forum, Pink Floyd doing The Wall. So many others…all great shows in a fucking badass time in music.

A couple years later, 1982 in San Bernardino, I fell in love with Annabella Lwin. She didn’t know it. Maybe that story will unfold on another day. To bed for me now. Fade out…

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