Daily Dose: ‘Oh Bondage! Up Yours!’ by X-Ray Spex

Let’s talk some more about punk music, and specifically, a band whose one album title track, Germfree Adolescents, I heard a lot as a kid, and I would recommend that anyone listen to at least once. Following the rather silly traditions of punk music, this song, their first single, apparently managed to become a classic punk rock single despite barely registering on the charts at the time. Anyway, any band that only manages to release five singles and one album in its main iteration is probably a punk band, an underachiever, or most likely, both. Like a lot of bands in the era, X-Ray Spex were inspired by lead singer Poly Styrene’s attendance at a Sex Pistols concert (this may go some way to explaining the quality of a lot of punk music) in July 1976. Poly Styrene (real name Marianne Joan Elliott-Said) is no longer with us, which is sad, because my god did she have a mouth on her. This was her rant against consumerism and capitalist waste, not to mention servitude. It features some truly liberal horn playing to go with the fairly jaunty main tune, not to mention the utterly insane vocal delivery. The opening begins with Styrene easing in gently, with a spoken set-up: ‘Some people say little girls should be seen and not heard. But I think’ -here comes the part where we take off— ‘OH BONDAGE UP YOURS! 1-2-3-4!’ and at this point the band has started up and it’s too late, there’s no stopping this ride. It is visceral, it is oddly joyful, it’s a bit confusing, and it’s kind of brilliant. It’s worth listening to just for that voice alone, really, with the shouting, ranting, chanting, wailing antics of Styrene actually making for a very enjoyable listen. Punk music: it’s still a bit silly, but hey, when you can blast it out like this, who cares?

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