Never mind Never Mind the Bollocks. X-Ray Spex's Germ Free Adolescents is (for this dork's money) the best album of the golden age of UK punk. Anti-consumerist rebellion was nothing new to the era or the genre, but singer Poly Styrene and crew shed off any amount of heavy-handedness that ordinarily comes that territory on that forty-five minute treatise on the profound confusion of "living in a consumer society" and somehow made said confusion sound like the party of the century. It's no small feat., Listen to first Clash record, the Pistols album, and Adolescents and then tell me which band you would've wanted to hang out with. The Spex oftentimes sound like the only band that was having any fun.
Sadly, Poly (nee Marianne Joan Elliott-Said) succumbed to cancer on Monday at the age of 53. Half-Somali and half-British with a mouthful of braces, the then nineteen-year-old singer's voice, lyrics and persona defied any prior precedent, while creating one that made room for the Kathleen Hannas and Beth Dittos to come. Indeed, in an age where punk rock has mostly shed its angry bent in favor of something more fun and nuanced, X-Ray Spex's influence grows while the other punk greats' share diminishes, at least temporarily.
"I wanna be instamatic, I wanna be a frozen pea. I wanna be dehydrated in a consumer society", she sings sarcastically in this here track. No modern consumer marvel has been able to mass-produce a Poly Styrene, and I doubt one ever well. We'll miss you Poly.