Posts Tagged ‘Under The Big Black Sun’

With their 3rd album “Under The Big Black Sun”, Los Angeles punk pioneers X had created an album that was every bit as good as their landmark debut. Not an easy feat for any band who started their career which such seminal albums as “Los Angeles” and “Wild Gift”. But where “Wild Gift” largely repeated the winning formula of their debut, the musical growth and emotional depth of “Under The Big Black Sun” was undeniable.

“X’s first album issued on a major label, 1982’s “Under the Big Black Sun”, is arguably their finest record. All 11 songs are exceptional, from both a performance and compositional point of view. The Doors Ray Manzerek’s production is more akin to hard rock bands than their earlier punk works, but the songs still pack quite a punch. Before the recording of the album, singer Exene Cervenka’s sister was killed by a drunk driver, and the band decided to work out their grief in the music, as evidenced by two of the album’s best tracks: the melodic “Riding With Mary” and the vintage ’50s sound of “Come Back to Me.” The highlights don’t stop there, however; also included are the Led Zepplin’esque “The Hungry Wolf” (an early video favorite of MTV), the accelerating “Motel Room in My Bed,” the rocker “Blue Spark,” the spacious title track, and the album closer “The Have Nots.” Again, Cervenka and John Doe supply some great vocal harmonies (perhaps the only punk band to ever do so), while Billy Zoom shows off great rockabilly chops throughout. “Under The Big Black Sun” is one of the quintessential rock records from the ’80s.”

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Formed in 1977, X quickly established themselves as one of the best bands in the first wave of LA’s flourishing punk scene; becoming legendary leaders of a punk generation. In 2020 – they released their first new album in 35 years, “ALPHABETLAND”.

Released April 12th 2019.

Signed Book: "Under the Big Black Sun"
£38 GBP (approx.)

Under the Big Black Sun explores the nascent Los Angeles punk rock movement and its evolution to hardcore punk as it’s never been told before. Authors John Doe and Tom DeSavia have woven together an enthralling story of the legendary west coast scene from 1977-1982 by enlisting the voices of people who were there. The book shares chapter-length tales from the authors along with personal essays from famous (and infamous) players in the scene. Additional authors include: Exene Cervenka (X), Henry Rollins (Black Flag), Mike Watt (The Minutemen), Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey (The Go-Go’s), Dave Alvin (The Blasters), Chris D. (Flesh Eaters), Jack Grisham (TSOL), Teresa Covarrubias (The Brat), Robert Lopez (The Zeros, El Vez), as well as scencesters and journalists Pleasant Gehman, Kristine McKenna, and Chris Morris. Through interstitial commentary, John Doe “narrates” this journey through the land of film noir sunshine, Hollywood back alleys, and suburban sprawl—the place where he met his artistic counterparts Exene, DJ Bonebrake, and Billy Zoom—and formed X, the band that became synonymous with, and in many ways defined, L.A. punk.

Under the Big Black Sun shares stories of friendship and love, ambition and feuds, grandiose dreams and cultural rage, all combined with the tattered, glossy sheen of pop culture weirdness that epitomized the operations of Hollywood’s underbelly. Readers will travel to the clubs that defined the scene, as well as to the street corners, empty lots, apartment complexes, and squats that served as de facto salons for the musicians, artists, and fringe players that hashed out what would become punk rock in Los Angeles.

Doe’s inspiration came in a feverish burst in Tucson, Arizona, where he was recording with Howe Gelb (of Giant Sand) and spent time with his friend, author Michael Blake (Dances With Wolves), hours before his death. From the opening rumble of The Westerner’s leadoff track “Get On Board,” Blake’s spiritual presence and the inevitability of mortality are threaded through the album.

“This may not be a country record but it is definitely a Western record,” Doe “It has all the horizon, sand and beautifully scary things of the desert.”

Reverb-heavy, twangy guitars punctuate “My Darling, Blue Skies,” propelled by Doe’s wild-eyed repetition and distorted stabs of organ that recall the Doors. “Alone in Arizona” is as desolate as its title, with narcotic acoustic guitar strums and ominous, trebly bursts of electric guitar accenting Doe’s narrative of loss and longing. Blondie’s Debbie Harry lends her voice to “Go Baby Go,” one of a handful of revved-up garage-rock tunes that act as a counterbalance to the album’s quieter moments.

Additionally, Doe’s first book Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk, will be published on May 1st. As an integral part of the scene with X, Doe’s own account of the time will be accompanied by contributions from members of other influential Los Angeles punk and hardcore bands.

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