Marion Elliott-Said, who re-invented herself as punk goddess Poly Styrene of the X-Ray Spex died of breast cancer complications on 4/25/2011. The X-Ray Spex album Germ Free Adolescents, one of the essential documents of the punk era, retains its power due to the trenchant, prescient themes that Poly wrote and sang about.
Whether singing about the possible perils of "Genetic Engineering", the chemically saturated modern world, obsessive germ-phobia, the ubiquity of advertising and the resultant consumption-obsesssion, unrealistic beauty standards and overdependence on consumer goods and "all mod cons", Poly Styrene captured the wonders and horrors of the modern age, and commented on them with fierceness, passion, and wit. Listening to the album, one cannot escape its timeless quality- the very topics that Poly addressed are even more apparent today. Poly always seemed to walk the knife edge between genius and madness, and eventually suffered a nervous breakdown due to a brutal schedule. She recorded a couple of solo albums, including the upcoming Generation Indigo.
Rest in Peace, Poly... you warned us back in 1977, but your howl of warning was ignored, and we still face the dilemmas you sang about.
Enough of me, how about some X-Ray Spex?
Here's proto-Riot Grrrl anthem "Oh, Bondage, Up Yours!", in which Poly kicks the patriarchy and consumer culture in the nads with a bovver boot, along with "Identity":
Here's a snippet of an interview of Dearest Polly:
A teaser for a documentary:
And a personal favorite- the first video I ever embedded on this here blog:
Poly- punk, poetess, prophetess, you will be missed. Your legacy lives on in the millions of women who refuse to be bound, whether by the patriarchal dominance structure or the Mass-Consumption Complex.
Thanks to zrm, who broke the sad news to me, and "Big Ups" to the Youtube commenter who wrote, "Oh, Cancer, Up Yours!" Now, go out and get your hands on some X-Ray Spex and crank it up to ELEVEN!!
* Don't believe a word of this.