Booze n Speed; The 7" Singes Collection '94-'97 - The X-Rays (High Noon Records)
This album title should be filed under the Don't Try This At Home Kiddies label. Everyone knows cheap booze + cheaper speed = a killer hangover. Played at volume, the amphetamine rush of The X Rays is likely to have the same effect. This is English gutter-punk, turned up to 11.
There's nothing subtle about these 26 songs. Each one is cranked out at extreme volume and pace. The effect is as bracing as it is tiring. The attack is incessant and bruising, the product of too many beer-soaked nights spent on heaving stages in Europe, supporting the likes of New Bomb Turks, Gas Huffer, The Motards and anyone else who'd have 'em. All but one song is the product of 10 singles issued in the '90s, the closing "Drinkin' For My Baby" being from a recent session by the reformed X-Rays. That last one is a keeper, by the way.
You know what to expect but you might not anticipate the sole cover, a take on the Saints' sublime "Erotic Neurotic", to be as distorted (or good) as it is. "Recording quality varies from cruddy to better than OK. Audiophiles, The X-Rays are not.
A third of the songs are presaged by a blast of white noise feedback. The rest simply lurch out of the speakers at you, unannounced and reaching for your throat. With titles like "Arrogant Fucked Up Shit", "Drahstrip Killer", "2 Bit Whore" and "PCP", it's punk rock in the Killed By Death genre, which if you don't know is the seamy under current that erupted all over the US of A without the straight edge affectations or extreme violence of hardcore.
Look, you're might have to be in the mood to be belted around the ears like this. There's precious little in the way of a saving grace like a melody line or a slow song. This is raw and insistent music to get blasted with. Judged on that basis, it works a treat. - The Barman