x citations vol1Whatever your view about recent and current line-ups of the band (and there are naysayers of the Rilen-less version), X in their prime were The Real Deal. On a good night, no other act in Australia could match them for raw intensity with an underlying musicality.

There was something dangerous about X and it wasn’t just the lunatics that followed them, leaving a trail of smashed glasses, broken furniture and self-inflicted flesh wounds behind them.

That’s why the 40-year anniversary package of “X-Citations Vol 1” is so welcome. Picking up on the earliest days of X - the four-piece with Steve Lucas on vocals and Ian Krahe on guitar - and pushing through to the end of original drummer Steve Cafeiro’s tenure, this vinyl collection of 14 songs serves as a perfect reminder - or an introduction for the unaware - to their unique music.

There’s not much diehards haven’t heard here but don’t let that hold you back if you’re an X tragic. Vinyl fetishists can also be assured that the mastering job is excellent. One side is demo’s and live-to-air cuts from the Krahe line-up; the other captures the “X-Aspirations” band with the late Peter Coutanche on second guitar on a live “I Don’t Wanna Go Out”.

Preceding the name of anyone from ‘70s versions of X with a descriptor like “the late” is almost redundant. The collection was compiled by Steve Lucas who is the sole surviving ‘original member. He’s made some hard but valid choices. “You Don’t Like Me” and “One More Chance” show the band coalescing but still packing an enormous punch. Cafeiro might have out-weighed his petite and accomplished successor, Cathy Green, on physical size and hard-hitting but there’s no denying that he, too, had a lot of swing.

Nobody on any stage had more presence than Ian Rilen and his physicality on bass has never been more apparent than on those early tracks, as well as the later “I Don’t Wanna Go Out” and “Halfway Round The World”. The highly-charged guitars of Lucas and Coutanche on the former might make this the definitive version.

Snatches of between-song patter from Krahe (intro’ing “TV Cabaret Roll” on radio as a take down of TV’s “Countdown”) adds an eerie touch.

“X-Aspirations” was a defining statement so this collection wisely avoids over-reliance on that release. Lucas sets out his rationale for the songs chosen and nicely rounds out the history of the band in his incisive, one-page liner insert.

“X-Citations” was crowd-funded but copies should be on sale at X’s 40th anniversary Australian shows. If you can’t make it, shake down Steve Lucas on Facebook and demand a re-pressing. It looks like there will be more volumes. As the words say on the cover: X is the music that can’t die.