“Germ Free Adolescents” by X-Ray Spex - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1978Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die external-link.png

TJR says

Having given up on her fledgling career as Britain's answer to Susan Cadogan, 19-year-old Marian Elliott (soon to be re-imagined as Poly Styrene) set about her next project via the tried and tested method of the Melody Maker: ‘YOUNG PUNX WHO WANT TO STICK IT TOGETHER’. After the ad, a bit of pack shuffling and a couple of chance encounters, the five who emerged ready for the first album challenge were all bonded like mates, all wide-eyed, wondrous, and very much in it together. Said Poly: “It was a little like being in the last year of school together, gigging alongside Jak, Paul, Rudi and BP.” The five in class were: Poly Styrene (vocals), Jack 'Airport' Stafford (guitar), Paul Dean (bass), Steven 'Rudi' Thompson (saxophone) and 'Big' Paul Hurding (drums). They did it their way, the hard way, building up their own following through gigging, leading to recording a session for John Peel. Leading into the album's November '78 release were three hit singles: the riff-tastic “The Day The World Turned Day-Glo” (#23), the fake-body-image-scorner “Identity” (#24) and the bass-driven beauty “Germ Free Adolescents” (#18) addressing the little-explored phobia of the would-be-teen-lover: “he’s a germfree adolescent and cleanliness is her obsession. Cleans her teeth 10 times a day, Scrub away, scrub away, scrub away, The S.R. way.” Her funny and razor sharp everyday lyrics are all over the album and demand close attention. The group show they can play hard and fast Punk with the best of 'em on my favourite cut, “Obsessed With You”, with the added bonus of a squealing sax setting them apart from the also-rans. As John Lydon put it: “X-Ray Spex came out with a sound and attitude and a whole energy – it was just not relating to anything around it – superb.” Alas, the pressure became a bit too much and, with Poly's heart not in it, the band didn't last too much longer. Still, their last term together was a blast, Punk exams passed with honour.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:21] 6.4.png X-Ray Spex - Art-I-Ficial [album verson] (Marian Elliott) Punk
A2 [02:26] 8.0.png X-Ray Spex - Obsessed With You (Marian Elliott) Punk
A3 [03:04] 6.6.png X-Ray Spex - Warrior In Woolworths (Marian Elliott) New Wave
A4 [03:23] 6.1.png X-Ray Spex - Let’s Submerge (Marian Elliott) Punk
A5 [02:55] 7.2.png X-Ray Spex - I Can’t Do Anything (Marian Elliott) New Wave
A6 [02:22] 6.6.png X-Ray Spex - Identity (Marian Elliott) Punk
B1 [02:45] 7.3.png X-Ray Spex - Genetic Engineering (Marian Elliott) Punk
B2 [02:06] 6.7.png X-Ray Spex - I Live Off You (Marian Elliott) New Wave
B3 [02:29] 6.3.png X-Ray Spex - I Am A Poseur (Marian Elliott) Punk
B4 [03:09] 7.9.png X-Ray Spex - Germ Free Adolescents (Marian Elliott) New Wave
B5 [04:56] 7.7.png X-Ray Spex - Plastic Bag (Marian Elliott) Punk
B6 [02:50] 6.7.png X-Ray Spex - The Day The World Turned Dayglo (Marian Elliott) New Wave

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