Germs - (GI) - Review
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critics' view

With so many albums in my collection it’s nearly impossible to remember where they all came from, but you always remember fondly the ones which were especially chosen for you, and such is the case with (GI), gifted to me by a good pal of mine by the name of J. Guevara (< hardcore handle). To her dying day, J will easily be identifiable by the permanently inked blue circle on her wrist; this group inspired devotion many years after the event – amazing for a one-album wonder. At the time of release in October ’79 the Los Angeles 4-piece were: Darby Crash (21, vocals); Pat Smear (20, guitar); Lorna Doom (~21, bass) and Don Bolles (23, drums) – hardcore handles one and all. Not as hardcore as their original name from a few years earlier, mind you. Sophistifuck and the Revlon Spam Queens was good, but it was too expensive for T. Shirts which were costed by the letter!

Their live gigs ‘til now had been characterized by exciting but chaotic performances where not one fuck was apparently given; their ‘sloppiness is an art’ attitude was usually delivered in an atmosphere which was violent, aggressive and downright dangerous. Their reputation went before them and, as a result, they ended up being banned from the majority of venues in their home state, a ban which they managed to avoid for a time by playing under the alias G.I. (standing for “Germs Incognito”, see?) The group were spearheaded by the borderline-psycho charmer Darby Crash who referenced the likes of Nietzsche, Bowie, Manson and Hitler in his lyrics, although these were usually indecipherable underneath his trademark sneered-drawl, delivered at an average speed of 100mph. Most fans never had a clue what he was banging on about until the LP was released with printed lyrics inside.

There’s not a weak track on side one which seems to get stronger as it develops, culminating in the classic “Lexicon Devil”, here re-recorded from the single ’78 version, and much improved largely due to the stupendous new drummer. This one finds Crash as a master of War playing fantasy mind games, controlling men as pawns: “I want toy tin soldiers that I can push and shove, I want gunboy rovers that will wreck this club, I'll build you up and level your heads, we'll run it my way, cold men and politics dead”. Psycho! Highlights of side 2 include the fantastic “We Must Bleed” which is pure anarchy and re-enacts an alternative but no-less hellish bloody Sunday, and the excellent post-punk closer “Shut Down (Annihilation Man)” which takes a leaf out of the Stooges book by finishing with an unexpectedly long (nearly 10 minutes!) out-of-character number, Cramps-esque in style, bathing in the swamp of dirty blues. Darby Crash committed suicide by intentional heroin overdose on December 7, 1980. I guess he couldn’t handle the idea of fading away. At least he did the burning brightly bit well…

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