GENERATION XGeneration X

AKA: GEN X

Formed: London, England, 1976

The pretty boys of the first wave of British punk, Generation X were also its whipping boys. Reasons for this were numerous. They were pretty, especially punk pin-up Billy Idol, occasionally seen in leather trousers with what looked like a cucumber in the crotch, who overdid the Sid/Elvis sneer. Some of the band were very middle class, a definite no-no at the time. They also had great t-shirts and haircuts and, as a consequence, looked bloody brilliant. This image consciousness had them earmarked early on poseurs.

Generation X Live 1977 / 1978

They insisted on breaking the Punk Rock Rules. Firstly, they professed to wanting to make as much money as possible. They didn't object to appearing Top of the Tops. They also wrote insanely catchy songs with proper melodies. They sang the praises of Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones while all around them were declaring all-out war on the crinkly rockers of yore. Ironically, going against the punk grain made them one of the most punk of all the early bands, and they made at least five classic singles and one classic LP. However, their brief spurt of glory turned out to be overshadowed by the success of Billy Idol, who launched a solo career in 1981, in America of all places, and was transformed into a ludicrous, sneering stadium rock star.

Billy Idol

But, some history.

At the tail end of 1976, there was Chelsea, featuring Gene October (vocals), Idol (guitar), Tony James (bass) and John Towe (drums). The latter three branched off to form Generation X, picking up former Paradox guitarist Bob ‘Derwood' Andrews along the way, which left Idol free to do the singing and pose.They were managed by Andrew Czezowski, manager of the Roxy, and because of this Generation X played their first show, in December 1976, at the Roxy on its opening night. After recording their first Peel Session in April Towe was replaced by Andrew Laff and the band signed with Chrysalis Records in mid-77.

A series of awesome pop-orientated singles followed. The first, September 77's Your Generation was a vigorous riposte to The Who's old generation, and it was publicly slagged off by Elton John, which earned them substantial punk credits. While the rather corny and slightly damp Wild Youth sounded almost like Gary Glitter, they managed to beat The Clash by at least two years by featuring a dub version on the B-Side. The dub version is terrible, but it's there nonetheless, so some credit should be given for this.

It should be noted that three bootleg singles also appeared in 1977: Perfect Hits "The Demo Tapes" and Perfect Hits Vol 2
were apparently self-released by the band, and featured the Towe incarnation of the group racing through half a dozen or so songs in less than stellar sound quality. The third bootleg was a version of Your Generation which came out at around the same time as the proper single of the same name.

YOUR GENERARATION

Trying to forget your generation
You know all the ways when in what I see
The ends must justify the means
Your generation don't mean a thing to me
I say your generation don't mean a thing to me
I say your generation don't mean a thing to me

Might take a bit of violence
But violence ain't our only stance
Might make our friends enemies
But we gotta take that chance
There ain't no time for substitutes
There ain't no time for idle threats
Actions are rather hard to place
Cause what you give is what you get

So that's your generation
It's your generation
Well it's your generation
It's your generation

So that's your generation
It's your generation
Well it's your generation
It's your generation

To the end
Justify the means
To the end
Justify the means
To the end
Justify the means
To the end
Justify the means
It time for generation

WILD YOUTH

I'm walking in the street
With the latest on my feet
And the hair that makes the people stop and stare

I got no money, but that's okay
Because I live from day to day
And I'm free to come and go just as I please

Wild, wild, wild, youth
Wild, wild, wild, youth
Wild, wild, wild, youth

My records are so load
I gotta hang out with the crowd
Because the usual crew are sus on what to do

Mom and dad says I can't win
Because it gets you in the end
The regale is the gun that shoots the man

Despite being written off (by some) fairly early as being more into metal than punk (I know, I'm as baffled as you), Generation X is one of the finest albums of the period, although criticisms of overproduction bear some weight. Eleven songs, all of them classic, speed by in an adrenaline rush of enthusiasm, from the scene-celebration of ‘One Hundred Punks', the fondly nostalgic ‘Ready Steady Go' (also issued as their third single), the accusatory ‘Promises Promises', the ripped-and-torn balladry of ‘Kiss Me Deadly' and the six-minute display of pure unadulterated rockin' glory that is ‘Youth Youth Youth'. Highly recommended.

READY STEADY GO

Ready, Steady, Go
I'm not in love with television
I'm not in love with the radio
I'm not in love with the Kings Road
Because I'm in love with Cathy McGowan - she said

Ready steady go - all things she said
Ready steady go - wasn't it fabulous
Ready (ready) steady (steady) go

I'm not in love with Juke Box Jury
I'm not in love with thank you Lucky stars
I'm not in love with T'T'T'Twiggy
Because I'm in love with Cathy McGowan - she said

I'm still in love with the Beatles
I was in love with the Stones, no satisfaction
I was in love with Bobby Dylan
Because I'm in love with Rock'n'Roll

Ready steady go!
Go! Go! Go!
Ready steady go!
Ready steady Who
Ready steady Stone
Go! Go Go Go

PROMISES PROMISES

The last lot made a few mistakes
They didn't die young, they got big waists
We got let down at the back of Earls Court
We swore that night we'd never get caught
Cause we were smarter than they were (they were)

We started out with guitars and hate
With our rooms in the clouds we could hardly wait
Our legs apart, our amps up high
The stage caught fire (then?) the charts blew up
And we play more than they do (they do)

Promises Promises
Do you remember the promises promises - I do-
Do you remember the promises promises - I do-

We made our shirts with sprays and knives
Then we saved up for weeks for Malcolm's strides
Our hair was short we said what we thought
We'd never be scared [we'd] never be bought
Never sell out like they did - they did

Promises Promises
Do you remember the promises promises - I do-
Do you remember the promises promises - I do-

Soon you'll get your gear form Marks and Sparks
Punk'll take over Top of the Pops
Think you're having a real cool time?
Watch out kid you're next in line - Oh Yeah

Do you remember the promises promises - I do-
Do you remember the promises promises - I do-

Where were you in '75
When there weren't no gigs and we were jive
(Promises promises promises remember)
No one gave a shit for our Rock'n'Roll dream
R men laughed re-release the Cream
(Promises promises promises remember)
And they thought we were stupid
And they thought we were stupid
And we promised we'd get back get back
Do you remember the Promises Promises
Do you remember the Promises Promises
What I do, what I do, what I do, what
I do, I do, I do, what I do, what I do

Promises promises promises remember

Bill Idol of Generation X Billy Idol and Tony James of Generation X

One of the band's heroes, Mott the Hoople's Ian Hunter, produced LP Number Two, Valley Of The Dolls. This saw the beginning of a major backlash. It was dismissed in many quarters as bloated, and although it featured their biggest selling single (King Rocker), it was the beginning of the end for the classic lineup. Contrary to popular belief, there isn't much wrong with this record, it just doesn't have the same devil-may-care hell-for-leather gotteramerdung of the debut. The title track, ‘Running With The Boss Sound', ‘Friday's Angels', ‘Night Of The Cadillacs' and even the much-lambasted ‘King Rocker' are great, and a pair of tear-jerkers (‘Paradise West', ‘The Prime Of Kenny Silvers') are quite lovely.

RUNNING WITH THE BOSS SOUND

Yesterday by the paper stand I felt the power
Of another religion
Rebels with a cause came out of the sun
And spoke the only language they'd been given
Creepers tapping out the beat as I felt the heat
Man they sure looked neat
Well tonight for sure
You could feel the same as me
We didn't have to fight
On the other side of town
Running with the boss sound
Running with the boss sound
Running with the boss sound

In the day we use machines or brains
Cos we need hard cash for living
And later between tracks & raps with friends
We'll find some time for loving
Stratocasters strafe the sky
As Disco Johnny hustles by
Man those feet can fly, high
Well tonight let's dance and risk romance
Baby let's take a chance
We'll make it in a single bound
Running with the boss sound
Running with the boss sound
Running with the boss sound

I feel it in the air and I know that you're there
We won't let you down
The phantoms of the underground
Running with the boss sound
Running with the boss sound
Running with the boss sound

Racing wild with the radios blasting out - ready steady go!
As we rip through the charts crashing like angels at the end of rocks rainbow
Electricity runs in my blood like Gods
Man if you could see it
By tonight for sure you'd be the same as me
A junkie needing more
Our feet burning up the ground
Running with the boss sound
Running with the boss sound
Running with the boss sound

Yeah we're burning up the ground
Where the rockabilly beat pounds
With the ska rhythm pressing down
Where the skinhead moon stomp pounds
Where the heavy metal comes down
When the punk rockers are round
Yeah you and I are found
Yeah you and I are found
Running with the boss sound
Running with the boss sound
Running with the boss sound

Generation X - King Rocker - Japan 7"Generation X - Ready Steady Go Japan 7"

King Rocker and Ready Steady Go 7" (both japan)

Generation X - Wild Youth Japan 7"Generation X - Your Generation France 7"

Wild Youth (7", Japan) and Your Generation (7", France)

Generation X - Your Generation Germany 7"Generation X - Your Generation Japan 7"

Your Generation (7", Germany and Japan)

Generation X in 1978

Generation X Ticket Japan 1979A third album, to be entitled Sweet Revenge, was recorded in late 1979, but Laff and Andrews quit to form the heavy metal act Empire, which released a roundly ignored album in 1980, Expensive Sound. Sweet Revenge finally emerged in 2003 as part of Anthology, and is interesting rather than exciting, presenting a handful of tracks unavailable anywhere else (‘Girls', ‘Modern Boys'. ‘Cathy Comes Home'), and some (‘Triumph', ‘Revenge') the band went and re-recorded with even less fire. Truth be told, it sounds like demos, and the appended extended version of ‘Dancing With Myself' is atrocious, dragging on for over five minutes without making it past the intro.

DANCING WITH MYSELFGeneration X - Billy Idol

On the floor of Tokyo
Or down in London town to go, go
With the record selection and the mirror reflection
I'm dancing with myself

When there's no-one else in sight
In the crowded lonely night
Well I wait so long for my love vibration
And I'm dancing with myself

Oh dancing with myself
Oh dancing with myself
Well there's nothing to lose
And there's nothing to prove
I'll be dancing with myself

If I looked all over the world
And there's every type of girl
But your empty eyes seem to pass me by
Leave me dancing with myself

So let's sink another drink
'Cause it'll give me time to think
If I had the chance I'd ask the world to dance
And I'll be dancing with myself

UNTOUCHABLES

You and me have a passion
Escaping the days that go by
Just our desire
Patronise a secret painted salon
Let us talk about the live
Where the skins aren't out

But it was O.K.
It was all right
We were, we were
The untouchables tonight
The untouchables tonight

You and me while we're waitin' on a corner
Share a packet of two
With all the fools to savour
We laughed and cried, split our sides
At what they told us

I've coloured my life blue and
Ice diamonds are the line of my life
But time strikes against us
It takes some of us home
Will pick our souls, turn up in you
While it sets me free
All things young and blue, what'll I do
When you're gone too

Idol and James soldiered on with a truncated name as Gen X, recording Kiss Me Deadly with musical assistance from Steve Jones, John McGeogh (Banshees, ex-Magazine), Steve New (ex-Rich Kids), James Stevenson (ex-Chelsea, ironically enough) and Terry Chimes (ex-Clash). Although lacklustre, it does boast ‘Dancing With Myself', and side one has some strong material: the dub-influenced ‘Revenge' and the peppy ‘Triumph', but side two falls completely flat with five merit-free, unmemorable songs.

When the LP flopped, Idol fled to America, Chimes went back to The Clash, and Stevenson became a session musicians, Tony James finally bounced back five years later with Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

 

LINEUP #1 (1976-1977):

Billy Idol (RN William Broad) - vocals (ex-Chelsea)
Bob "Derwood" Andrews - guitar
Tony James - bass
John Towe - drums

LINEUP #2 (1977-1980):

Generation X - 1978

Billy Idol - vocal
Bob "Derwood" Andrews - guitar (ex-Paradox)
Tony James - bass
Mark Laff - drums (ex-Subway Sect)

LINEUP #3 (1980-1981):

Generation X 1981

Billy Idol - vocals
Tony James - bass
Terry Chimes - drum
James Stevenson - guitar
Assisted by Steve Jones and John McGeoch on guitars



DISCOGRAPHY

Singles / Albums

Generation x - Your Generation Generation X - Wild Youth Generation X - Ready Steady Go Generation XGeneration X Generation X - King Rocker
Your Generation
(7", 1977)
Wild Youth (7", 1977) Ready Steady Go
(7", 1978)
Generation X
(LP, 1978)
King Rocker
(7", 1979)
Generation X - Valley Of The Dolls 7" Generation X - Valley Of The Dolls LP Generation X - Fridays Angels 7" Gen X - Dancing With Myself Generation X - 4
Valley Of The Dolls
(7", 1979)
Valley Of The Dolls
(LP, 1979)
Fridays Angels
(7", 1979)
Dancing With Myself (7"/12", as Gen X, original version, 1980) 4
(7"/12", as Gen X, 1980)
Gen X - Kiss Me Deadly Billy Idol and Gen X - Dancing With Myself      
Kiss Me Deadly
(LP, as Gen X, 1981)
Dancing With Myself (7"/12", as Billy Idol and Gen X, 2nd version, 1981)      

Extraneous Releases

Generation X - Perfect Hits "The Demo Tapes" Generation X - Perfect Hits Vol 2 Billy Idol & Gen X - Mony Mony Generation X - The Best Of Generation X - King Rocker (Old Gold)
Perfect Hits "The Demo Tapes" (7", 1977) Perfect Hits Vol 2
(7", 1977)
Mony Mony (7", as Billy Idol & Gen X, 1981) The Best Of Generation X
(LP, 1985)
King Rocker / Valley Of The Dolls
(7", 1987)
Generation X - The Original Generation X Generation X - Perfect Hits 1975 - 1981 Generation X - The Idol Generation Gen X - 3 Track 5" CD Single Generation X - K.M.D. - Sweet Revenge
The Original Generation X
(LP, 1987)
Perfect Hits 1975 - 1981 (CD, 1991) The Idol Generation (CD, 1993) 3 Track 5" CD Single (CDS, 1993) K.M.D. - Sweet Revenge
(LP/CD, 1998)
Generation X - Live At The Paris Theatre '78 & '81 Generation X - One Hundred Punks - BBC Live In Concert Generation X - Radio 1 Sessions Generation X - Anthology Generation X - Live At Sheffield
Live At The Paris Theatre '78 & '81
(CD, 1999)
One Hundred Punks - BBC Live In Concert (CD, 2002) Radio 1 Sessions
(CD, 2002)
Anthology
(3xCD, 2003)
Live At Sheffield
(CD, 2003)
Generation X - K.M.D. - Sweet Revenge Xtra Generation X - Day By Day Generation X - Live BBC Sessions 1977-1979 Generation X / Valley Of The Dolls
K.M.D. - Sweet Revenge Xtra
(CD, 2004)
Day By Day (7", 2004) Live (CD, 2005) BBC Sessions 1977-1979 (LP, 2006) Generation X / Valley Of The Dolls
(CD, twofer, 2011)
Generation X - Live At Hatfield Polytechnic 1980 Generation X - An Interview With Billy Idol Of Generation X      
Live At Hatfield Polytechnic 1980 (CD) An Interview With Billy Idol Of Generation X (3x7", 1980)      

Bootlegs

Generation X - Your Generation 7" Bootleg Generation X - Untouchables Generation X - Shakin' All Over Osaka! Live Japan 1979 Generation X - Retrogressive Regeneration Generation X - Roundhouse, London 10th April 1977
Your Generation
(7", bootleg, 1977)
Untouchables
(LP, 1980s)
Shakin' All Over Osaka! Live Japan 1979
(LP, 2001)
Retrogressive Regeneration (LP) Roundhouse, London 10th April 1977 (LP)
Generation X - Ready Steady Go CD Bootleg        
Ready Steady Go (CD)        

 

Various Artists

20 Of Another Kind UK LP 1979 (Polydor): Ready Steady Go

The Main Event UK LP 1979 (K-Tel): King Rocker

Burning Ambitions (A History Of Punk) UK 2xLP 1982 (Cherry Red): Your Generation

The Best Punk Album In The World ... Ever! 2 UK 2xCD 1996 (Circa): King Rocker

1-2-3-4 Punk & New Wave 1976-1979 UK 5xCD 1999 (Universal): Your Generation

No Thanks! The '70s Punk Rebellion US 4xCD 2003 (Rhino): Your Generation / Ready Steady Go

Sniffin' Glue: The Essential Punk Accessory UK CD 2003 (Castle): Your Generation

Links

 

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