Germfree Adolescents

Germfree Adolescents is the 1978 debut album of English punk rock band X-Ray Spex. It contained the UK hit singles "The Day the World Turned Dayglo" (No. 23 in April 1978), "Identity" (No. 24 in July 1978) and "Germ Free Adolescents" which reached No. 18 in November 1978. Upon release, the critics noted it wasn't all new material: five songs on the twelve tracks had already been released on A Sides and B sides of singles.

Germfree Adolescents
X-Ray Spex - Germfree Adolescents album cover.jpg
Studio album by
Released10 November 1978 (1978-11-10)
Recorded1978
StudioEssex Studios, London
Genre
Length35:51
LabelEMI
Producer
X-Ray Spex chronology
Germfree Adolescents
(1978)
Conscious Consumer
(1995)

ReceptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [1]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[2]
Mojo     [3]
Pitchfork10/10[4]
Q     [5]
Record Collector     [6]
Record Mirror     [7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [8]
Spin Alternative Record Guide10/10[9]
Uncut     [10]

From contemporary reviews, Charles Shaar Murray of NME praised the album, stating it "neatly avoids the weakness of previous Spex gigs and records (i.e. cacophony, ramshackle playing boosted by road-drill volume) while concentrating on the band's strengths (great lyrics, nifty chewns, energy and a winningly knowing innocence)."[11] Tim Lott of Record Mirror declared the album to be "sounds for sophisticated head-bangers" and that it was "Bright music, glaring and kitsch as the pinks, greens and yellows that splash the colour. Taste in tastelessness, anarchy in tune. What did you expect from X-Ray Spex?"[7] Jon Savage felt had too much already released material on it, noting that "The album is basically, the Spex set from early (Roxy/Man In The Moon) days and the first demo with a fair sprinkling of new additions: 'Genetic Engineering', 'Warrior In Woolworths', 'Artificial', and the title track [...] the album features an unforgiveable proportion of material already released and well-aired: five songs out of 12, three A-sides." but still concluded that "This doesn't detract from the album's playability. The sides are programmed symmetrically and sensibly [...] All the songs are built around catchy, deceptively simple riffs, often reminiscent of reggae in their jaunty lilt, and they're done full justice by the band and the production." [12] Murray also was disappointed by the lack of new material, stating that " three A-sides (the title track, 'Identity', and the immortal 'The Day The World Turned Day-Glo') and one B-side ('I Am A Poseur') on an album makes for poor value in this man's supermarket."[11] Lott critiqued some tracks, noting that "'Plastic Bag" went "beyond the bounds of good kitsch"[7] Savage echoed this statement, finding that "Plastic Bag" was the "one track that's actively annoying: the otherwise amusing 'My Mind Is Like A Plastic Bag' is burdened by a cumbersome arrangement, nostalgia lyrics ("It's 1977 and we're all going mad") and Poly at her most unlistenable."[12] Murray commented that "Plastic Bag" was "by no means as excellently realised as it was on the original X-Ray-Spex demo tapes of a year or so back (this allusion is not eltism: I just wish you could have heard that version).[12]"

The NME ranked it the ninth best album of 1978.[13] In his February 1979 "Consumer Guide" column in The Village Voice, critic Robert Christgau bemoaned the fact that Germfree Adolescents had not been released in the US and praised Poly Styrene's "cheerfully moralistic nursery rhymes", the songs' strong melodies and the "irresistible color" of the band's "dubiously tuned one-sax horn section".[14] He also named the album one of the few import-only records from the 1970s he loved yet omitted from Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981).[15]

LegacyEdit

Robert Christgau later deemed Germfree Adolescents "one of British punk's strongest" albums.[16] Trouser Press declared it "a masterpiece!"[17] The Rough Guide to Rock calls it a "storming album".[18]

In 1994, The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music named Germfree Adolescents the eighth best punk album of all time.[19] Seven years later, in May 2001, Spin magazine ranked the album at number five on its "50 Most Essential Punk Records" list.[20] In March 2003, Mojo magazine ranked the record at number 19 on its "Top 50 Punk Albums" list.[21] Germfree Adolescents is listed in the reference book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[22]

In 2020, Rolling Stone ranked the album at number 354 in their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[23]

Cover versions and cultural referencesEdit

  • Long-running California punk band NOFX has performed a cover version of Germfree Adolescents live.[24]
  • In an interview after being shortlisted for the Mercury Prize, British artist FKA Twigs named Germfree Adolescents her favourite album of all time[25]

Track listingEdit

All tracks written by Poly Styrene.

Side A

  1. "Art-I-Ficial" – 3:24
  2. "Obsessed with You" – 2:30
  3. "Warrior in Woolworths" – 3:06
  4. "Let's Submerge" – 3:26
  5. "I Can't Do Anything" – 2:58
  6. "Identity" – 2:25

Side B

  1. "Genetic Engineering" – 2:49
  2. "I Live Off You" – 2:09
  3. "I Am a Poseur" – 2:34
  4. "Germ Free Adolescents" – 3:14
  5. "Plastic Bag" – 4:54
  6. "The Day the World Turned Day-Glo" – 2:53

Bonus tracks

The 1991 Caroline release features four additional tracks and a rearranged song order.

  1. "The Day the World Turned Dayglo" – 2:50
  2. "Obsessed with You" – 2:26
  3. "Genetic Engineering" – 2:46
  4. "Identity" – 2:21
  5. "I Live Off You" – 2:06
  6. "Germ Free Adolescence" – 3:10
  7. "Art-I-Ficial" – 3:21
  8. "Let's Submerge" – 3:23
  9. "Warrior in Woolworths" – 3:03
  10. "I Am a Poseur" – 2:30
  11. "I Can't Do Anything" – 2:55
  12. "Highly Inflammable" – 2:32
  13. "Age" – 2:36
  14. "Plastic Bag" – 4:51
  15. "I Am a Cliché" – 1:52
  16. "Oh Bondage Up Yours!" – 2:48
  • Tracks 12, 13, 15 & 16 from original singles.

The 2005 CD reissue includes the original song order and the following bonus tracks not on the original release.

  1. "Oh Bondage Up Yours!" – 2:51
  2. "I Am a Cliché" – 1:55
  3. "Highly Inflammable" – 2:35
  4. "Age" – 2:38
  5. "Genetic Engineering" – 2:49
  6. "Art-I-Ficial" – 3:24
  7. "I Am a Poseur" – 2:34
  8. "Identity" – 2:25
  9. "Germ Free Adolescence" – 3:05
  10. "Warrior in Woolworths" – 3:06
  11. "Age" – 2:38

PersonnelEdit

X-Ray Spex
  • Poly Styrene – vocals
  • Jak Airport – guitar
  • Paul Dean – bass
  • Rudi Thomson – saxophone
  • B.P. Hurding – drums

Additional personnel

  • Ted Bunting – saxophone on "Identity" and "The Day the World Turned Dayglo"
  • Lora Logic – saxophone on "Oh Bondage Up Yours!" and "I Am a Cliché"
  • Falcon Stuart – producer, cover concept
  • John Mackenzie Burns – engineer
  • Andy Pearce – assistant engineer
  • Nick Webb – mastering
  • Trevor Key – photography
  • Cooke Key – sleeve

ChartsEdit

Chart (1978/79) Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[26] 56
United Kingdom (Official Charts Company) 30

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "Germ Free Adolescents – X-Ray Spex". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  2. ^ Robbins, Ira (7 August 1992). "Germfree Adolescents". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 17 November 2016. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  3. ^ "X-Ray Spex: Germfree Adolescents". Mojo. p. 131. The band's entire studio output in just over an hour ...
  4. ^ Pelly, Jenn (15 January 2017). "X-Ray Spex: Germfree Adolescents". Pitchfork. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  5. ^ "X-Ray Spex: Germfree Adolescents". Q. p. 139. [I]t still comes up trumps, packed with such witty, no-nonsense rants as 'Warrior in Woolworths,' 'Identity' and 'The Day the World Turned Day-Glo' ...
  6. ^ Staunton, Terry (May 2009). "X-Ray Spex – Germ Free Adolescents: Deluxe Edition". Record Collector. No. 362. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Lott 1978.
  8. ^ Wolk, Douglas (2004). "X-Ray Spex". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 890. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  9. ^ Sheffield, Rob (1995). "X-Ray Spex". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. p. 441. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  10. ^ "X-Ray Spex: Germfree Adolescents". Uncut. p. 132. [T]he heat and intensity of this debut has never been repeated. Nearly 30 years after it was recorded, Germfree Adolescents is as timely as ever.
  11. ^ a b Murray 1978.
  12. ^ a b c Savage 1978.
  13. ^ "1978 Best Albums And Tracks of The Year". NME. 10 October 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert (26 February 1979). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  15. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "The Guide". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor and Fields. ISBN 0-89919-026-X. Retrieved 30 March 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  16. ^ Christgau, Robert (26 April 2011). "Poly Styrene, Punk Pioneer, Dies at 53". NPR. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  17. ^ Young, Jon; King, Wayne; Robbins, Ira. "X-Ray Spex". Trouser Press. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  18. ^ The Rough Guide to Rock, p. 1194.
  19. ^ Larkin, Colin (1994). All Time Top 1000 Albums. Guinness Publishing. p. 236. ISBN 0-85112-786-X.
  20. ^ Dolan, Jon (May 2001). "The 50 Most Essential Punk Records – 5. X-Ray Spex: Germfree Adolescents". Spin. Vol. 17, no. 5. p. 108. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  21. ^ "Top 50 Punk Albums". Mojo. No. 112. March 2003.
  22. ^ Dimery, Robert, ed. (2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (revised and updated ed.). Universe Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  23. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 22 September 2020.
  24. ^ "NOFX – Germ Free Adolescents (X-Ray Spex cover) Lyrics – SongMeanings". SongMeanings. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  25. ^ MercuryPrize (15 September 2014). "FKA twigs Q&A – 2014 Mercury Prize". Archived from the original on 13 December 2021 – via YouTube.
  26. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 344. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.

SourcesEdit