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X

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X
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While the world’s attention was fixated on the New York and London punk scenes, X was coming together in Los Angeles. The band – singer/bassist John Doe, singer Exene Cervenka, guitarist Billy Zoom, and drummer D.J. Bonebrake – would become an explosive live act, masterful songwriters, outspoken populists, cultural iconoclasts, and hugely influential country-punk pioneers. In a fitting twist, X was discovered by another seminal Elektra artist, Ray Manzarek of the Doors, who produced the band’s landmark 1980 Slash Records debut, Los Angeles. The album drew copious critical acclaim, but nothing quite on the level as the hosannas strewn at X’s second album, Wild Gift, which was declared the best record of 1981 by Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times.
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X signed with Elektra and in 1982, unleashed yet another masterpiece with Under The Big Black Sun, which saw the band beginning to incorporate elements of American roots music into their breakneck rockabilly punk rock. 1983’s More Fun In The New World – produced, like its predecessors, by Manzarek – bore a slightly more polished sound, as well as a Modern Rock radio hit in a high-velocity cover of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Breathless,” while standing out as a defining protest album of the Reagan era. The band’s passion for hillbilly, folk, and country led to the formation of The Knitters, an acoustic side-project also featuring their longtime friend, Dave Alvin of The Blasters. X then parted ways with Manzarek to collaborate with Mötley Crüe/Dokken producer Michael Wagener on 1985’s Ain’t Love Grand! The album would be Zoom’s last with X, who then recruited Alvin for a fruitful but short-lived union that yielded 1987’s very fine See How We Are, the first X album to fully embrace a more traditional roots-rock approach. Alvin amicably parted ways with X during the recording of See How We Are, and was replaced by ex-Lone Justice guitarist Tony Gilkyson, who appears on 1988’s blazing Live At The Whisky a Go-Go On The Fabulous Sunset Strip. The latter would be X’s last with Elektra, with the members pursuing solo careers – including Doe’s successful vocation as in-demand character actor – during what would become a series of long hibernations between new X projects.
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