12 O'Clock Track: 'The New World,' classic evergreen prophecy from X

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More in the New World was the last great album by the LA postpunk band X and also its penultimate effort with original guitarist Billy Zoom. The 1983 album is getting reissued for the second time tomorrow by Real Gone Music, but really, there's no need for such an occasion to sing its praises. On this release the group embraced a bigger, more polished sound, although the timeless rock 'n' roll riffery of Zoom remained at the center of the band's attack—the album includes the band's cover of the Jerry Lee Lewis classic "Breathless," which it had recorded for the awful remake of the Jean-Luc Godard film with Richard Gere. Despite the glossier veneer, the songs featured some of band's darkest, most apocalyptic lyrics. John Doe and Exene Cervenka (who seems to have utterly lost her mind in recent years) were starting to sound rather cranky and bitter, glorifying the good old days: on "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts" they get ultraspecific, name-checking the Minutemen, Black Flag, Big Boys, and Flesh Eaters while disparaging the dominant synth-driven new wave and singing "Astronauts going back in time to hang out with the cave people" and "Woody Guthrie sang about b-e-e-ts, not b-e-a-t-s." Still, the album's opener, "The New World," is today's 12 O'Clock Track, and its message sounds even more relevant today than it did three decades ago, at the height of Reaganism. In fact, the tune embraces the ultimate old-man cliche in expressing doubts about mainstream notions of progress, particularly in the face of a then-declining automobile industry: "It was better before, before they voted for what's-his-name / This was supposed to be the new world." You can check out the original, dated video clip of the song after the jump.

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