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X-RAY SPEX- Identity 7″ (EEEMMMIIIII, UK, 1978)

On April 25 2011, Poly Styrene (born Marianne Joan Elliott-Said) died of breast cancer. She was the singer of X-RAY SPEX, a first generation Punk band from London.

My love for X-RAY SPEX’ «Germfree Adolescents» album (released in 1978) is of the most intense nature. The combination of razor sharp guitars, an even razor sharper saxophone and the razor sharpest voice of Poly Styrene is amazing, simply amazing. Poly was the siren in Punk. Nobody had a voice like hers. She opened her mouth, sang and she became the most attractive woman you could ever dream of. And then the lyrics – always playful, laced with innuendo, joyful without being dumb or stereotypical. An orgiastic rainbow of the most colorful metaphors, so powerfully intonated that in songs like “Plastic Bag”, her voice, the driving music, the lyrics, it all blends together.
So today I stood there, the five X-RAY SPEX singles in my hands. Which one would I pick for this tribute? The one with my favorite cover (“Highly inflammable”) or the classic “The Day the World turned day-glo”, the song which everybody, just everybody loves? Well, it had to be “Identity”, cause this one has always been my favorite on the album (and by this, I’m not saying that the others are not as good). It’s the song with the murkiest undertone, methinks, but probably this is only me. Put “Identity” on and you got me vibrating and radiating like a nuclear power plant in an earthquake.

“I’m an observer”, Poly once said in an interview, “not a suffering artist writing from tortured experiences. I was playing with words and ideas. Having a laugh about everything, sending it up.”
Nothing she did after “Germfree Adolescents” came nowhere near and her “spiritual” turn, I could have done without. But what does it matter now? It’s all right, Poly. You too have the right, like we all do, to play around with words and ideas.

Identity.mp3
Let’s submerge.mp3

 

PS: In the booklet of my old band Fear Of God’s discography double-album «Zeitgeist» (released 2003), I put an essay under the following excerpt of the brilliant “I’m a poseur” lyrics:

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