Germ Free Adolescents – X-Ray Spex (1978)

EMI International INT 573

I would never consider myself to have been a punk rocker or even into heavy rock, however going through my collection around 1977, 1978 several singles I did buy were of either an alternate or punk rock nature.

I’ve never noticed before, but this X-Ray Spex single is entitled on the label as Germ Free Adolescence, however the picture sleeve reads as “Adolescents”.

Picture sleeve says the title is “Germ Free Adolescents”

The track is from their only album “Germ Free Adolescents” which also had the single, which shamefully I don’t have, but should, which was called “Identity”. My job at the time meant when serving customers to benefits I had to ask for some form of identity, thus in my head I would mimic the phrasing of the song’s delivery. Back to this single, which in my mind is a perfect mix of clever words and delivery, written by the wonderfully named punk rock vocalist Poly Styrene who was born Marianne Elliott-Said in 1957 and died in 2011 from cancer.

She formed X-Ray Spex in 1976 with Jack Stafford (Jak Airport), Paul Dean, (Paul) BP Hurding and Susan Whitby (Lora Logic) who played the saxophone for the group whilst aged 15 for one early song. The band had additional musicians play on tours and on the album.

The lyrics mention two teenagers obsession with cleanliness and two dentistry products – S.R., a toothpaste which has the tag line in the song of “She cleans her teeth ten times a day, scrub away the S.R. way” and Listerine a mouth wash. Although a punk band this offering is much more commercially palatable than say other British bands such as The Sex Pistols, Bow Wow Wow, The Damned and The Clash who were at the forefront of punk rock at the time. It was produced by Falcon Stuart and the band.

Reached #19 in UK Charts

The single was their third and highest placing track on the British top 75 entering the chart in November 1978 at #63 reaching its peak at #19 in an 11 week run on the chart.

B-Side – Age

The B-side is a much more traditional sound called “Age” and is a non album track timed at 2 minutes and 32 seconds.

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