X-rated music, and adult books too — the best of X

The L.A. equivalent of Fleetwood Mac, X boasted a powerful rhythm section and a bassist and singer who sang to and about each other, even when the scenarios were fiction. Meanwhile a guitarist in Billy Zoom with a bag full of rockabilly riffs kept them coming. Wild Gift garnered the kudos, but I can’t choose between the quartet of superb albums released in Ronald Reagan’s first term produced by Ray Manzarek. John and Yoko, Richard and Linda, Linda and Cecil — many couples released song cycles about marriage in that period; Wild Gift is the only one that evokes talk benumbed and awash alcohol, of bad sex regretted in the morning in dirty rooms. When they lapsed into the generic, which was often after 1983, John Doe and Exene Cervenka’s harmonies — plainspoken, anguished — still juiced the songs.

1. White Girl
2. The Hungry Wolf
3. The Once Over Twice
4. I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
5. 4th of July
6. Your Phone’s Off the Hook, But You’re Not
7. Adult Books
8. The World’s a Mess; It’s in My Kiss
9. Riding with Mary
10. Dancing with Tears in My Eyes
11. Beyond and Back
12. Blue Spark
13. Los Angeles
14. When Our Love Passed Out on the Couch
15. We’re Having Much More Fun
16. The New World
17. Burning House of Love
18. Motel Room in My Bed
19. Drunk in My Past
20. Breathless

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