You are either a lover or a hater of live albums. Unless you have seen or heard the band previously it is very difficult to determine how well a live album will be received. This release by X-Ray Spex was recorded at the bands first live show since 1979 at the Roundhouse in London, and is a performance of their album ‘Germ Free Adolescents’. To be honest, there have been far better live albums released previously by other artists.

There is certainly something regarding this band that is of interest. The songs are incredibly upbeat and very lively. You can literally picture the band sweeping about the stage, making the most of their time up there; the fans present probably had a blast. It isn’t just guitars and drums pounding; there are brass sections that may sound a tad squeaky but still remain in sync with the melodies present and the occasional songs that will catch your attention such as the opener ‘Oh Bondage Up Yours!‘ for its chorus. When listening to the songs you can detect something intriguing and enjoyable but listening to it rather than experiencing it live just isn’t satisfying enough.

Unfortunately, no matter how impressive the songs may sound, the vocals on the release are the downfall. From the very beginning vocalist Poly Styrene screeches along with the music playing. It is understandable that everything sounds distorted when playing live, songs get altered and vocals appear rougher around the edges. But there are times where the vocals and music seem to be at two very different paces and the two seem very unconnected. The vocals just don’t sit happy with the music, even when they are in time with the melodies. On the slower numbers the connection between vocals and music are still a tad out of sync but far more coupled then they are on the more upbeat tracks.

When on stage with music pounding and lights flashing, X-Ray Spex was probably very well received. However if you were not at this gig then do not be expected to find many pleasurable moments in this release. The CD is presented alongside a live DVD, so it may be best to begin with watching this to see what these guys are all about before diving in headfirst.