X Under the Big Black Sun

X Under the Big Black Sun
Los Angeles punk band X never received the credit they deserved. That's not to say the quartet were never recognized for their genre bending contributions to punk, rock and rockabilly. But because of that willingness to dabble in multiple styles, often simultaneously, no one group of fans claimed them as their own, anointing them with the same God-like status as many of the band's contemporaries. While that status is unlikely to change in the near future, reunion tours and now these vinyl reissues, courtesy of Porterhouse Prime Vinyl, certainly go a long way to introducing John Doe, Exene Cervenka, Billy Zoom and D.J. Bonebrake to a new generation of fans. Under the Big Black Sun (originally released in 1982) found the group in transition, moving away from their punk roots to a more rock-oriented sound that would bring them commercial, as well as critical, success. As its title suggests, a dark cloud hangs over even the most optimistic of songs on the band's third record. Produced by the Doors' Ray Manzerek, it was written and recorded in the wake of the death of Cervenka's sister, who was killed in a car accident. Opener "The Hungry Wolf" hits harder, if not faster, than the band's earlier material, while songs like "Riding with Mary" and "Come Back to Me" carry greater emotional weight in their empty spaces than the non-stop sonic furry of their contemporaries. Of course, stellar Lead Belly cover "Dancing With Tears in My Eyes," would serve as an introduction to the lyrically dark pop sound they'd explore on their next album, More Fun in the New World. This vinyl reissue is missing the bonus tracks from its 2001 CD iteration, but pressed on 180-gram vinyl, it sounds fantastic. Although lacking the edge and iconic songs of their earlier material, and less stylistically diverse than later records, Under a Big Black Sun remains X's most fully realized work. (Porterhouse Prime)