The X__X were punk before you were. Don’t take that the wrong way, it’s just a statement of fact; they were punk before almost anybody was. Formed in Cleveland in the late 70’s by lead singer/musician/artist/provocateur John D. Morton following the dissolution of the Electric Eels, the current edition makes a rare live appearance this Friday, May 11, at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach for an early show at 7 p.m. Joining Morton are original X__X guitarist Andrew Klimyek, drummer Matthew Harris and another original Cleveland punk, Craig Willis Bell, whose bass playing anchored such legendary groups as Rocket From the Tombs and the Mirrors, among others. The Cuspidors, also from Cleveland, open.
In the true punk spirit (though ‘punk’ wasn’t exactly a thing at the time), Morton formed Electric Eels in 1972 after leaving a Captain Beefheart show unimpressed by the opening band and thinking he could do better. Cleveland and the world were not ready for the Electric Eels in the early ’70’s, but his dadaist punk recordings with that group, X__X, the Styrenes and others have developed a loyal cult following among collectors and musicians in the ensuing decade, as has his parallel career in visual art. Bell’s Rocket From the Tombs are the quintessential proto-punk band; breaking up without releasing a record, their splinter groups included Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys along with the Mirrors.
X__X’s latest album is Albert Ayler’s Ghosts Live at the Yellow Ghetto, released by Smog Veil Records. Their cover of the late saxophonist’s “Ghosts” is the centerpiece of the collection. Like Morton and Klimyek, Ayler was a musician years ahead of his time whose musical journey took him from Cleveland to New York. Ayler, like Peter Laughner, Stiv Bators and so many others who made that trip, died young. Morton, Klimyek, and Bell are still here, and will be in Long Beach with Matthew Harris as the X__X. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
The X__X with the Cuspidors, May 11, 2018, 7 p.m. Alex’s Bar, 2913 E Anaheim St, Long Beach, CA 90804. $10 cover.