Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Marion, You Were Never a Cliché*

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.


zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I have to confess I do not have GFA in my library. I have corrected that with a download of the double album available on eMusic.

I find it needlessly cruel of the universe to have her die the day before her new album is released. Perhaps I can complain to William Donohue or Ross Douthat, since they claim to speak for the Almighty?

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Thanks to zrm, who broke the sad news to me

zombie status notwithstanding, I do not relish being the bearer of bad news. I do enough of that in Klark Kent life.

But I knew you would do her proud.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I posted Polly on saying yes just the other day.

She is survived by her substantial body of excellent music.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I have corrected that with a download of the double album available on eMusic.

You've been re-instated in the will!

GFA is one of those all-time incredible albums. It's not just a collection of songs, it's a prognostication from an oracle. Unfortunately, we mere humans didn't heed it, and now Poly has ascended to her ultra-groovy Olympus.