Seventies punk bands were not known for their depth or musicianship. But X, the quintessential American punk band, was an equally good country and rockabilly quartet. (Thanks to Ray Manzarek’s production, and occasional onstage presence, they also reminded listeners of the Doors’ finer moments.)
This was a group that knew—and played—the music’s history, going all the way back to Robert Johnson, Gene Vincent (X’s virtuoso guitarist, Billy Zoom, had spent time in Vincent’s band), and the great swing-band drummers you could hear in D. J. Bonebrake’s playing. Thanks to John Doe and Exene Cervenka’s chemistry (which reminded others of the Carter Family), X’s story was one of the great rock-and-roll love stories. And to top it all off, The Unheard Music, which came out in 1986, is one of the greatest rock-and-roll films. This week, the hard-to-find documentary reappears as a deluxe, silver-anniversary-edition DVD. It’s one of the year’s most welcome reissues.
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