Gi by Germs on Apple Music

16 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Emerging from the seedy, sunny and deeply paranoiac environs of mid-‘70s Hollywood, the Germs were the first American punk band to match the Sex Pistols for pure annihilative energy. Their sound was a merciless blitz of snarling guitar and skittering drums. Initially the band’s performance style was total cacophony, but by the time GI was recorded in 1979, the group could actually boast a razor-sharp tightness (aided in no doubt by Joan Jett’s guidance as producer). The locked-in assault of bassist Lorna Doom, drummer Don Bolles and guitarist Pat Smear is contrasted by the unhinged rabidity of singer Darby Crash. Crash pushes Iggy Pop’s technique to its absolute limit — in every song he explodes with the rage of a caged wolverine (listen to “Manimal”). Still, beneath Crash’s sputtering, spastic delivery lies some of punk’s most literate lyrics: “He wears the linens just like Garbo / And talks at a saturnine pace / Listening to the strange notes marvel / Only giving what it takes” (from “Richie Dagger’s Crime”). GI won the Germs a cult audience that continues to grow, but for all the bands it went on to influence, the group’s lone LP stands alone.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Emerging from the seedy, sunny and deeply paranoiac environs of mid-‘70s Hollywood, the Germs were the first American punk band to match the Sex Pistols for pure annihilative energy. Their sound was a merciless blitz of snarling guitar and skittering drums. Initially the band’s performance style was total cacophony, but by the time GI was recorded in 1979, the group could actually boast a razor-sharp tightness (aided in no doubt by Joan Jett’s guidance as producer). The locked-in assault of bassist Lorna Doom, drummer Don Bolles and guitarist Pat Smear is contrasted by the unhinged rabidity of singer Darby Crash. Crash pushes Iggy Pop’s technique to its absolute limit — in every song he explodes with the rage of a caged wolverine (listen to “Manimal”). Still, beneath Crash’s sputtering, spastic delivery lies some of punk’s most literate lyrics: “He wears the linens just like Garbo / And talks at a saturnine pace / Listening to the strange notes marvel / Only giving what it takes” (from “Richie Dagger’s Crime”). GI won the Germs a cult audience that continues to grow, but for all the bands it went on to influence, the group’s lone LP stands alone.

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About Germs

Living fast and dying young is one of rock's great clichés, but no phrase better describes the reasons for the demise of L.A. punkers known as Germs. Capable of creating a firestorm of noisy, confrontational music, they were ultimately undone by their perversely charismatic lead singer. He was a madman named Paul Beahm, better known to the world at-large first as Bobby Pyn, later and more famously as Darby Crash, who died Sid Vicious-style out on the mainline at age 22.

Taking musical cues from the Sex Pistols (and English punk in general), as well as the CBGB's scene, and adding the theatricality of Bowie, Iggy, and Lou Reed, Crash was the perfect frontman for Germs. Backed by guitarist Pat Smear (later of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters), bassist Lorna Doom, and drummer Don Bolles, the Germs kicked up a hellacious racket that strayed from fast/loud punk into art damage and garage grunge. On-stage, their gigs bordered on performance art, with Crash in full Iggy frenzy, diving into the crowd, adorning himself with whatever foodstuffs the audience provided, wearing less-and-less clothing, all done while the band cranked out noisy spasms of simple, but effective, rock noise.

Never capturing this mania on record (how could they?), Germs' recording career is based on the sole record made during Crash's short life. Produced by Germs fan Joan Jett, (GI) was a fine hunk of early L.A. punk rock that was more literate and compelling that what was being offered by lesser local luminaries such as the Zeroes and the Weirdos. Smear's guitar playing is especially volatile, matching the mewling vocals of Crash note for note. It may not be life-changing music, but the white-hot, adrenal rush is a little bit of heaven.

By the time Crash filled his veins with heroin in 1980, Germs were pretty much over. Crash's behavior had become increasingly unpredictable, he was spending time in England, and began preforming as a solo act upon returning to L.A. Consequently, the valuable recorded work in this final period is spotty, but much of it shows up on the definitive Germs release Germs (MIA) The Complete Anthology. ~ John Dougan

  • ORIGIN
    Los Angeles, CA
  • FORMED
    Apr 1977

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