Album #430 – (GI)

Album #430

The Germs were one of the most influential bands to emerge from the L.A. punk scene. Their attitude, especially of lead singer Darby Crash, was different from their New York counterparts and put them in step with British punks like the Pistols. (GI) was the only full length album they released. Lead singer Darby Crash would die the next year, after the band split up and went their separate ways. Crash actually died one day before John Lennon’s untimely death, which overshadowed Crash’s passing. Joan Jett produced this album and because of her lack of experience, the album is raw and unpolished. Like many punk bands of it’s day, Crash can’t actually sing. Instead, it’s almost as if he’s yelling over the music just to be heard. This was something he also did on stage. Crash’s behavior on stage, made the Germs a must see act live. He was drunk, high and disorderly and their performances were part theater/part concert/part riot. The audience loved it. Sadly, this was what many outsiders thought punk rock was. It was so much more. (GI) was a chance for the band to capture on record what they couldn’t achieve live. The sound is pure punk and balls to the wall. Guitarist Pat Smear (now in the Foo Fighters) adds to the hard sound with his rough, loud guitar playing. Like Crash, the other two members of the Germs are not formally trained musicians and that adds to the rough sound (GI) contains throughout. (GI) represents much of what the L.A. punk scene was and what it became, until hair metal started taking over L.A. clubs in the 1980’s. It’s a shame music today is not like this. You can feel the excitement and energy. And, above all, it was fun, chaotic and imperfect.  The Germs reunited a couple of years ago after their bio pic, What We Is Secret came out. Actor Shane West, who played Crash in the film, also replaced him on stage. But, nothing will ever equal the sound and style of (GI). In the next decade, Black Flag, Husker Du, The Replacements and more would take this sound to the next level. The Germs created hardcore punk and without their influence, some of my favorite bands and artists might not have created some of THE best music of the following decade. Highlights include: What We Do Is Secret, American Leather, Manimal, Media Blitz (uses sound from actual TV and radio newscasts), Dragon Lady and Shut Down (Annihilation Man). Overall, I give (GI), 4 out of 5.

Next: The B-52’s self-titled debut album

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