Poly Styrene (X-Ray Spex)

John Lydon seemed to get what X-Ray Spex were all about. He stated  “Them, they came out with a sound and attitude and a whole energy – it was just not relating to anything around it – superb. an observation that described the band very well. Led by a distinctive and individual singer  Poly Styrene, they created a sound that was totally different to any of the other bands that came out of the early Punk movement. They not only had the harsh and at times shrieking vocals of Poly Styrene, that stood them apart, but also added a Saxophone which was a bold move considering the back to basics approach of Punk in the ’70s.  As Punk tore up the rule book for how music should sound, X-Ray Spex debut single “Oh Bondage Up Yours” threw it in a different direction with an unorthodox approach led by a strong opinionated female vocalist who had her own unique style.

Play: X-Ray Spex – Oh Bondage! Up Yours!


Besides her musical style Poly Styrene also embraced the individualism of Punks DIY fashion, creating her own clothes from whatever was cheap and available at the time she inspired other young women to experiment and propel themselves into the fashion industry as innovators themselves. The proof of which has been seen throughout the years since, as the fashion industry took on a multitude of styles that were created in the bedrooms of Punks and ended up on the backs of the rich and famous with inflated price tags.

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With the album “Germ-Free Adolescent” hitting the streets in 1978 the band had gathered together songs that would make a mark on history both musically, lyrically and with the subject matter. Condemning the fashion industry and the commercial attitudes, they took a stand and gave an opinion that would be very relevant in today’s overindulgent consumer spending society. A strong feminist message ran through Poly Styrene’s short time in the limelight, and although an element of this was intentional she could not be aware of the impact both her and the other female Punk icons of that time would have on future generations. Poly Styrene sadly past away in 2011 after being treated for cancer, but she will be remembered for creating a noise and vision that not only played a part in Punk but also a part in changing society.