Monday, 28 April 2014

X is for X-Ray Spex

April, 1978, and when I should have been studying hard for my A Level exams I was doing things like going to London to join a Rock Against Racism march which ended with a splendid gig in Victoria Park, Hackney.

Performing that day were such punk luminaries as The Clash and The Tom Robinson Band as well as reggae band Steel Pulse. But the musical memory link is formed by the wonderful X-Ray Spex and their superbly raucous singer Poly Styrene. Such names were de rigueur in the world of 1970s punk.

I had already bought the single Oh Bondage Up Yours!  by X-Ray Spex and the chance to see live the creators of such a joyous two-fingers to pomposity was too good to miss. As a result, I was part of the march which took us past pubs from where National Front supporters would emerge to call us "red scum". That's all they did and I think the day passed off peaceably on the whole.

Poly Styrene died from cancer in 2011, but her unforgettable voice - and believe me once you've heard her, you won't forget - ensures that she lives on.

The sound quality isn't the best on this video, but you'll get the idea.

Just for the record, my A Level results were a disappointment although I don't think they can have been much of a surprise to anyone who knew my lacklustre approach to studying. However, I survived and I can always say I saw Poly Styrene on stage.

Also-rans: XTC: A very fleeting memory of the father of a friend of mine seeing XTC on television and being very sarcastic about them. What I particularly remember is thinking "You're not meant to like them, you're an old man". This was slightly unfair and he might actually have been younger than I am now, but our perceptions of age certainly change with time.


  1. Hmmm, can't say I'm a fan of Poly Styrene's voice, but thanks for the introduction. The music wasn't bad. Cheers!
    Debbie @ The Doglady's Den,

    1. Fair comment. I doubt that you'll forget her in a hurry!

  2. How brave of you to admit the A levels did not go well. I publicly admit that I failed history once or twice... and yet today it is one of my main "things" your memory sounds fantastic... always good to leave a record of a good social conscience and fun taste in music! As usual #AtoZchallenge ☮Peace ☮ ღ ONE ℒℴνℯ ღ ☼ Light ☼ visiting from


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