X will reissue their first three albums — 1980’s Los Angeles, 1981’s Wild Gift and 1982’s Under the Big Black Sun — on September 18th. The re-releases will feature previously unreleased studio and live bonus tracks.
Despite the fact that X is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential punk bands, Doe says that shoddy distribution has kept their original albums off shelves. “The main plus and advantage of doing this is that the records will be available,” he says. “They’re individually packaged instead of the crappy two-for-one CD that Slash put out for Wild Gift and Los Angeles. WEA was really lazy about stocking stores with our CDs. If you don’t have records in stores, people can’t listen to them. People are aware of X, but if you can’t buy the records then you can’t turn a friend onto it.”
Earlier this year, X made an open call to fans, requesting that bootlegs, rehearsal tapes and photos be sent to the band for possible inclusion. Doe described the sifting process as “endless” and acknowledged not all the difficulty came from the sheer enormity of the project. “In one way, you get a great objective view of what the band was,” he says. “That’s the musical part — listening to tapes. The visual part is more difficult because you see a lot of friends that are dead, and that’s tough.”
A live version of “How I (Learned My Lesson)” from a Detroit show made the cut, but Doe said much of the material wasn’t up to snuff. “We got ticket stubs, fliers, candid photos of us at sound check and things like that — and lot of live tapes where people just had cassette recorders in the audience. In some of those you can sense the moment, but the sound quality was pretty bad, unfortunately.
Packaged with the original art, as well as added candid and live photographs, the CDs’ rarities include an early version of the Doe-penned Flesh Eaters’ song “Cyrano De Berger’s Back,” a rehearsal send-up of Marty Robbins’ “El Paso,” and alternate versions of songs from each record.
To support the reissues, the original X lineup of bassist/singer Doe, singer Exene Cervenkova, drummer DJ Bonebrake and guitarist Billy Zoom will re-group and play a handful of dates, beginning with an August 17 show at the Roseland Theater in Portland.
As for Doe’s solo career, he is seven songs into his next album, the follow-up to last year’s Freedom Is…. Joe Henry is co-producing the album and guest include Aimee Mann, Jakob Dylan, Beck guitarist Smokey Hormel and R.E.M. drummer Joey Waronker.
“It’s a more acoustic record than the last two or three,” says Doe. “I’m just starting to send CDs out to record labels and see who wants to put it out. It’s very much a late-night record. It’s for after 2.