As much as Billy Idol liked to talk about punk rock during his hitmaking days in the '80s, Generation X's 1978 debut album was the only time he really came correct on the punk thing. But then again, an album that opened with a John Lennon cover was not exactly going to appeal to the anarchist purists, so perhaps the former Mr. Broad gave up on that battle before it ever began. Still, if Generation X's music was more about a rebellion of cool than an aggressive challenge to the world around them (like the Clash or the Sex Pistols), that doesn't change the fact that their debut was an unusually solid slice of pop-punk that emerged at a time when the Buzzcocks had only recently created the initial working prototype. Tony James' chugging guitar provides a wellspring of speedy energy and simple, but potent, pop hooks, and there was still enough freshness to Billy Idol's aural sneer that his style sounded like teenage kicks rather than the arena rock pose it was soon to become. There are plenty of moments where Idol's stories about punks sound about as authentic as Rod McKuen's beatnik poetry, but on "Wild Youth," "Ready Steady Go," and "Your Generation," his youthful enthusiasm is coupled with a mixture of swagger and naïveté that's both charming and infectious. And while "Kiss Me Deadly" suggests Idol and James had already developed ambitions (and appetites) that extended beyond the 100 Club or the Vortex, they bring the tune off with far greater skill than anyone had a right to expect. Generation X doesn't sound all that punk compared to what, say, the Adverts or X-Ray Spex were doing at the same time, but compared to what would follow from this band (and their two principals), it's way rad, and lots of fun. Now let's all sing along -- "Heavy heavy dub, punk rockers!" ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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