It's the unimaginable, the fucking unfathomable--X, reunited 'cause it feels so good, playing live after on-and-off years of playing dead, or at least going solo (or fixing amps for the Lawd, in the case of one William Zoom). It happens every so often, when John Doe and Exene Cervenka and D.J. Bonebrake and Billy Z get the urge to purge in front of the faithful for whom this fearsome foursome remains The Best American Band, Like, Ever. All these years later, John doesn't sound right without Exene, Exene doesn't sound right without John, because theirs are two voices forever joined at the divorce papers; never have two people so wrong for each other sounded so right.

John's still out flogging the latest solo disc (Dim Stars, Bright Sky, not bad), but this short road stint's meant to pimp the Rhino Records reissues of the band's studio releases, pre-bust-up (the first one, anyway), all of which are crammed with outtakes and errata. Meaning, of course, the shows are packed with olds-but-not-oldies--those heartless songs you know by heart, those desperate ditties played by middle-aged rockers who were old even when they were kids, those wild gifts about white girls and the have-nots and devil dolls painting the town blue. Tops on my personal pops remains the spring night in 2000 when I stumbled into the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard and heard the band playing "Los Angeles" in Los Angeles; you'd have thought they wrote the song that afternoon, that's how fresh it tasted going down like a cocktail of bourbon and bourbon with an arsenic chaser. Reminded me of the night in 1996 when Randy Newman got a Hollywood Bowl crowd to sing along to "I Love L.A."; some people just don't get it, which is what makes this a wonderful world.


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