Perhaps the most underrated of the punk generation bands Generation X deserve another visit.

I guess at the time they looked to perfect, too pretty, too pop and were dismissed as lightweights (oddly enough they were loved by the early Dischord scene in Washington DC where they and the non Billy Idol post Gen X band Empire were a key influence on Minor Threat and the emerging hardcore scene in the city) But they cut some great records- classic punk rock pop from the early 45’s like ”ËœReady Steady Go’, ”ËœYouth Youth Youth’ and ”ËœWild Youth’ which are easily as exciting as some of their more esteemed peers like the Pistols or the Clash. In many ways I always felt that they were related to the Clash, bassist Tony James had cut his teeth playing with Mick Jones in London SS a non-gigging 1975 proto punk crew. They had the same sort of love of rock n roll but with an intelligent twist- Billy Idol (what a great punk name to give to yourself) may have liked to have played dumb but he was always a smart operator. Both him and James understood pop art- Tony James had his crash course from the Clash manager Bernie Rhodes and the pair of them we brimming with ideas from their initial days in the early Chelsea or Billy hanging out with the Bromley contingent. Even the name of the band Generation X was knowing- being copped froma youth culture book from the early sixties.
Generation X- the most underrated of the punk bands

”ËœWild Youth’ remains one of my favourite punk singles- it sounds a raucous and exciting and anthemic as a classic punk record should and it sounds massive. Generation X always made really powerful sounding singles and their production was certainly better than the early Clash- maybe that’s not punk rock but damn these records sounded great.

The dub version of ”ËœWild Youth’, ‘Wild Dub’ is stunning, it has all the yearning and excitement of punk in a stripped down punky dub mix- a highly effective utilising of the dub style that was wafting around the punk scene- Gen X should get more credit for this but somehow they have been edited out yet again by the snobs in the new linear narrative of punk rock that seems to crush the movement down to a handful of approved bands.

All the way through their career its Billy idol’s vocals that really stand out- he’s such a great singer- with the Elvis sneer intact he’s got a pure rock n roll voice, rasping, powerful and convincing on every track.

The band’s romp through the punk era is signposted with really great songs, ”ËœKing Rocker’ is a glam punk anthem, really funny lyrics and those amazing drums and that zig zagging riffs- an awesome tune it seemed to herald a big comeback for them becoming a mini hit when it was released but by the time they got to their next album.

Kiss me Deadly’ the band was limping along but the criminally overlooked album is stuffed full of top tunes like ”ËœDancing With Myself’ a powerful dark rock n roll tune which proved the band was still full on right to the end.

They collapsed after the UK tour for the album and Billy went to America and fully lived up to his name becoming the biggest selling artist from the punk generation whilst Tony James put together Sigue Sigue Sputnik- a brilliant pop art concept whose demos for the first album should be seeked out- rough and ready and fukll of great ideas this is their true moment.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. […] also produced Generation X, whose records sound far more clear cut and timeless that anyone dares to admit, perhaps sounding […]

  2. […] Idol, one time MTV superstar and ex frontman of the great Generation X is readying his […]

  3. […] and a few more and the ones in south London such as The Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Generation X etc ? Or did you all just hang out together at the Marquise Club for example […]

  4. […] punk days such as Derwood and Mark Laff, who were my idols back in the day in my favourite band – Generation X. Never in a million years did I think I would be interviewing them 30 years down the […]

  5. […] by Bob ‘Derwood’ Andrews and Mark laff from the fallout of Generation X, Empire released an amzing album that has slipped through the cracks of music […]

  6. […] Thing’, rumour has it to recoup monstrous recording costs. The band, now including Tony James, had evolved yet again, revealing a hitherto unseen stadium rock edge that sold out arenas across […]

  7. The greatest thing about Gen X was not only the music but the lyrics – they spoke about being punk rockers in the here and now but also looked to the future..Listen to “Promises” my favourite ever says it all…

  8. […] wasn’t until Billy would step out from the background and take center stage as front man of Generation X that the act from across the pond would make a huge splash in international waters. This quickly […]

  9. […] how did a founding member of The Clash, a man who played drums with bands as far removed as Generation X, Black Sabbath and Hanoi Rocks jack it all in to become a highly qualified chiropractor with a […]

  10. Loved Generation X – bought all their records in Canada – even though they got to the shops a year after their UK release – all three records were different – a lot of experimenting, especially on the second release with all the dub. I saw Sputnik at Screen on the Green in ’85 – they were fantastic too. When is 21st century music going to start? About the closest we got was the stuff coming out in the mid 80s. Great site – thanks

  11. Loved em from first time they.played in my home town of Chelmsford in 77. Great songs Great band and great front man

  12. Fake image orientated band, as testment – Idol pretty much had a pop career afterwards. They really were lightweights and stood for absolutely nothing punk originally stood for.

    • Yeh, that’s nonsense. Having lived through the 76- early 80’s punk “scene” these guys were not fake, but I agree that the front man saw an opportunity and migrated away from the original style in fairly short order. Can’t blame him, as punk couldn’t last as it was birthed – too much money started coming at them. Joe Strummer was at least as opportunistic in his career arc, going international political instead of staying in the local angst that rightly fueled most other punk.


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