X: Live in Los Angeles DVD

Outside of saying that Exene’s embarrassingly clumsy attempts at self-promotion and securing her place in the punk rock hall of fame have effectively killed the mountains of respect I once had for her, I will try to limit my comments to those of an X fan, which I have considered myself for more than two decades. While I won’t go so far as to say that they are the be-all and end-all of Los Angeles punk, as I think no band can possibly embody an entire scene, I will say that they are one of many that molded how L.A. punk was regarded. Being a fervent follower of the punk rock religion, I have partaken many, many times of the Los Angeles/Wild Gift/Under the Big Black Sun/More Fun in the New World communion wafers and continue to do so regularly. Needless to say, this was well worth the time it took to watch it. Everything about the production is just great, from the camera editing to the sound, the latter of which was handled by Billy Zoom himself. The band is in as fine a form as I remember them ever being. They look great and, more importantly, they sound great, which is saying quite a bit considering their “prime” was more than twenty years ago. While it always feels like a burn when a band sticks solely to their tried and true “hits” rather than expending the effort to come up with new music, in the case of X it seems to be a better idea to do things this way, as anything they’ve done from Ain’t Love Grand to the present has been, um, not too hot. One need do nothing more than play “Sex and Dying in High Society” and “Burning House of Love” back to back to see how bad things truly got. Here they run through twenty-one tracks of some of their finest work, from the opener, “Your Phone’s Off the Hook (but You’re Not)” to the closing cover of the Doors’ “Soul Kitchen,” and while it would’ve been nice to hear renditions of “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts” or rarities like “Heater” or “Delta 88,” the tunes they do serve up are done so well that you don’t miss what they didn’t do. Watching this reminded me of why I dug ’em so long ago: not only were their songs intelligent and intellectual without coming off as pretentious, they fucking rocked, and they still fucking rock. That, my friends, is what is most important, and that is what pisses me off most about Ms. Cervenka throwing her ego around: if you rock, the world knows it, and Exene can rest assured that their place in the punk pantheon is quite secure. Take a cue from your band mates and humbly let others toot your horn for you. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.shoutfactory.com)