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X-Ray Spex

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London, United Kingdom (1976 – 1979, 2008 – present)

X-Ray Spex are an English punk band from London that formed in 1976. The original line-up featured singer Poly Styrene (born Marianne Joan Elliott-Said) on vocals, Jak Airport (Jack Stafford) on guitars, Paul Dean on bass, Paul ‘B. P.’ Hurding on Drums, and Lora Logic (born Susan Whitby) on saxophone. This latter instrument was an atypical addition to the standard punk instrumental line-up, and became one of the group’s most distinctive features.

X-Ray Spex’s other distinctive musical element was Poly Styrene’s voice, which has been variously described as “effervescently discordant” and “powerful enough to drill holes through sheet metal”. As Mari Elliot, Poly had released a reggae single for GTO Records in 1976, “Silly Billy”, which had not charted. Born in 1957 in Brixton, London, of Somali-English parentage, Poly Styrene became the group’s public face, and remains one of the most memorable front-women to emerge from the punk movement. Poly Sytrene also became one of the first high-profile black people in punk rock. She wore braces on her teeth and once stated that “If anybody tried to make me a sex symbol I would shave my head tomorrow”.

X-Ray Spex existed from mid-1976 to 1979, during which time they released five singles - “Oh Bondage, Up Yours”, “Identity”, “The Day the World Turned Day-Glo”, “Germ Free Adolescents”, and “Highly Inflammable” - and one album, Germ Free Adolescents.

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