Weekly Wire
Tucson Weekly Rhythm & Views

DECEMBER 29, 1997: 

X

Beyond and Back: The X Anthology
Elektra

X AND BLACK Flag were the two most influential bands to emerge from the infantile California punk scene circa 1978. Black Flag's relentless hardcore barrage bordered on repetitive, rhythmic psychosis. The band's grinding, breakneck instrumentation and Henry Rollin's screeching pipes pulverized into helpless submission all who dared listen. X, however--specifically the husband-wife vocal tandem of bassist John Doe and Exene Cervenka--paid more attention to writing clever and poetic lyrics which nailed punk's disillusioned social commentary and fascinating sub-culture squarely on the head. Accompanied by the simple, corrosive rhythm guitar of Billy Zoom and his omnipresent platinum pompadour, and the rock-steady beats of underrated drummer DJ Bonebrake, X created immensely personal, insightful and super-catchy melodies on "sex and dying in high society." This Los Angeles quartet also embraced and melded many divergent Americana musical genres--everything from rhythm and blues to rockabilly--resulting in a unique brand of punk-injected roots rock. On this amazing double CD collection, X arises as the true originators and triumphant champions of the unfolding early '80s West Coast punk scene. Included among the 45 choice tracks are their crunching, signature punk anthem "Los Angeles," a grimy basement demo of "Johnny Hit And Run Pauline," and a vicious re-working of the Trogg's classic, "Wild Thing." Nearly 60-percent of the cuts are unreleased live, demo and alternate mixes: a treasure trove of unheard music for the diehard X supporter, and enough recognizable material for the casual fan.

--Ron Bally


THE RUBAKHALIL ORQUESTRA

The Water Machine
Rubakhalil Orquestra

CALL IT TUCSON'S half-hour version of the Basement Tapes: mad musical scientist James Bridges retreats to a near-westside living room full of guitars and keyboards, noodling around with strange tonal ideas (fuzzbox drones, thumbtack piano) and ambient sounds (train whistles, sirens) to craft folkish dirges like "O Jerusalem" and thumping grinders like "Translucent Blues," a down-and-dirty tune that would do John Lennon proud. It's all good stuff, raw and simple and kind-hearted, and the disc ends too soon. Craig Schumacher, at Wavelab Studios, gets a well-deserved nod for production work on this homebrewed concoction, which is well worth a listen--not least because one tune rhymes "Marc Chagall" with "city wall," earning honors for mentioning Chagall in the first place. The disc is available at CD Depot and the Sound Addict, or from Bridges himself (519 E. First St., Tucson 85705).

--Gregory McNamee


THE SUBJAZZ PROXY FEATURING GERALD WIGGINS

Autumn Somewhere
Resist/Lucid Records

AT ITS BEST, acid-jazz brings to mind originators like Grant Green, Jimmy Smith and Richard "Groove" Holmes, who were among the first to combine inner-city soul rhythms with more traditional jazz elements. Too often, however, what's labeled acid-jazz ignores the adventurous spirit of the name and plays it safe, becoming contemporary snooze music that functions as background filler. On their latest release, Autumn Somewhere, the Subjazz Proxy avoids tedium by combining strong rhythm section work recalling a slowed-down, druggy Stax or Motown sound with more traditional jazz improvising on horn and piano. Songs start with a deep drum and bass groove leading to trumpet and piano explorations that round out the quartet. It's these explorations that keep Subjazz Proxy from the predictability that marks so much of the genre. Trumpet, trombone and accordion drift over, around and through the rhythm, but rarely right in line with it. Noted swing pianist Gerald Wiggins brings an additional improvisational element to the album by adding color and texture around the horn work, not always sticking to the melody in case the listener might be getting too complacent. The 12 cuts manage to be atmospheric and moody without fading into the background, making it worth repeated listenings.

--Sean Murphy


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