This two-disc, 46-track collection is a welcome document of Los Angeles' punk progenitors.
This two-disc, 46-track collection is a welcome document of Los Angeles' punk progenitors. The band's initial burst of energy, following the "Adult Books"/ "We're Desperate" debut single (included), coincided with X's unlikely pairing with Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who produced the band's first four albums. Despite Manzarek's occasionally inappropriate keyboards on otherwise turbo-charged punk workouts, these early songs document X's unique and hugely influential punk/rockabilly/pop sound. Though John Doe and Exene Cervenka's quirky yet complementary vocals are X's most distinguishing characteristics, this compilation really showcases under-appreciated guitarist Billy Zoom. His solos on the Doors' "Soul Kitchen," "The Once Over Twice" and "Beyond and Back"—wherein Zoom's rockabilly influence is taken to extremes—are lightning-fast and muscular. X's rockabilly leanings are also featured in two tracks from offshoot band the Knitters. Later tracks show X settling into a more melodic pop/rock sound, with mixed success: Disc one is the essential X, but later gems like "See How We Are" demonstrate the band's musicality, versatility and longevity.—CW