Predicting the legendary Manimal television series by a good several years
*special introductory paragraph!
*(MIA) The Complete Anthology
*Rock N' Rule

The Germs were a legendary punk band from Los Angeles, recorded for all pontificate in the awesome documentary The Decline Of Western Civilization, which you need to rent tonight if you've never seen it. My friends and I used to quote it all the time because we were hardcore and would never sell out. Singer Darby Crash sang like a juveline delinguent with a mouth full of live cockroaches (until he killed himself), guitarist Pat Smear played with a trebly wiry energy unlike that of any other SoCal hardcore band except maybe Catholic Discipline, oh sweet sweet Catholic Discipline, until he formed Death Folk and joined Nirvana and then Foo Fighters and then quit, drummer Don Bolles played drums until forming .45 Grave and annoying friends with endless, boring anecdotes and the bass player was a woman of some sort. Also, apparently Belinda Carlisle was originally in the band, which is really really friggin' hilarious. On a related note, did you know that Courtney Love sang for an early version of Faith No More? I can't make stuff like this up. If I could, I'd make up a mindstoppingly bojanglingly funny joke like "Hey, did you know that Gary Wright used to sing for Spooky Tooth"? Ha ahaa h!! HA hah!! He was the keyboard player, not the singer!!! HA hahah!! AH HAHAHAHAH!!! AHAHAHHH! HHAHA! HAREH!! AHHSHS! HREARE!!! DREKRJEEK!!!F D SF S I don't know what the hell them fuckin' Slants put in that sake shit but it's got me twirlin 'like a banjo.

Germicide - Bomp! 1981
Rating = 3

One of the least endearing aspects of the punk rock revolution is that it convinced people with no talent that they should play concerts. Now it's certainly true that the Germs DEVELOPED talent (and quite a bit of it) over their three or four years as a band, but there is no God in Hell that should have allowed this pile of slow, unpracticed, amateurish, derivative and above all BORING garbage to take the stage of Los Angeles' famed "The Whisky" in June 1977. Darby Crash had NO stage presence yet and was still going by the prissy '50s name "Bobby Pyn," guitarist Pat Smear and bassist Lorna Doom hadn't yet learned how to keep time with each other or the drums (resulting in the band performing each song at four different speeds simultaneously), drummer Donna Rhia had absolutely NO concept of what a "steady beat" is (instead kind of BAP-a-BAP-a-BAPping like a baby banging rattles on his high chair tray), and most painfully of all, the band had only written like ONE good song at this point! Who had to stick their tongue up Rodney Bingenheimer's ass for them to get this cushy gig? For that matter, who had to stick their tongue up Rodney Bingenheimer's ass for no-talent Kim Fowley to even have a career in the music business as late as 1977? Most importantly, can I stick my tongue up Rodney Bingenheimer's ass? I love fudge, and I hear he keeps a ton of it packed up there!

This band sounds like they have never practiced before in their lives. It's not like the later Germs concerts, wherein Pat, Lorna and Don Bolles played fast, tight and killer while Darby slurred and screamed drunkenly. The ENTIRE BAND sounds like a bunch of moron little kids on this recording. The songs all have about two chords each, Darby's trying to sing but to a rhythm inside his head, and no matter whether they're playing fast or slow, the performance is so sloppy that it renders the whole disc nearly unlistenably grim. On the bright side, the recording is great - you can hear everything perfectly. Too bad it all SUCKS!

Let's look at the set list -- we've got an endless, excruciatingly bad version of their first single ("Forming"), as well as a version of its b-side "Sex Boy" that's actually (bizarrely enough) better recorded and much more enjoyable than the officially released version (!). If there's any reason at all to buy this disc (and believe me, there ISN'T), it's to finally have an audible version of this great sick early classic. Elsewhere, we've got the worst version of "Sugar Sugar" ever performed by mammals, an early take of future great song "Let's Pretend" performed at one-millionth of a quarter of its GI speed, and five shitty originals that would thankfully never see the light of day again. Please don't waste 35 dollars just to hear these rare tracks. Here, let me tell you all you need to know about them:

"Victim" - Fast, shitty, chord sequence from the Ramones' "I Don't Care"

"Street Dreams" - Slow, shitty, chord sequence from Syd Barrett's "Love Song"

"Get A Grip" - Trying to fool around with the rhtyhtm by playing four descending chords slowly then repeating them in double-time, but it's terrible! So amateurish! Then it just turns into NOISE. Awful! The best part of the song is when the chaos fades away, 'Bobby Pyn' dramatically counts down to the big ending - "4! 3! 2! 1!" - and only Pat starts playing again. Then slowly Lorna and Donna realize, "Oh, we're supposed to be playing too." HILARIOUS! Having said that, it's still better than the Aerosmith album of the same title.

"Suicide Machine" - slow, awful chord sequence. 'Bobby Pyn' tries to sing sensitively about a sad subject but the guitar is so out of tune, it's impossible. Two sensitive chords, followed by a bunch of ugly shit!

"Teenage Clone/Wild Baby" - Fast, two chords and random, WRONG notes on the bass. Christ, it's awful. So awful, it's almost GOOD!

Then the disc ends with a minute of 'Bobby Pyn' singing "Grand Old Flag" while the band just fucks themselves.

Oh, but hang on! It's not just the SONGS that will make you remove your ears in disgust. Check out some examples of 'Bobby Pyn''s brilliant stage patter:

(after "Sex Boy"): "Ah, fuck you! Come up here then! Oh wow! Big pussy! Ah, fuck you! Come up here! Could you please throw more stuff? 1-2-3, sissy sissy sissy."

(after "Street Dreams"): "Ah, fuck you! Come up here! You're real good! You're a real man!"

(after "Let's Pretend"): "Fuck you! Ah, come up here!"

(after "Suicide Machine"): "Does somebody wanna come up here and take my place?"

(in the MIDDLE of "Sugar Sugar"): "You're a fucking sissy anyway!" (followed shortly by this ingenious exchange between the band members): "Huh? What?" "You fucked it up!" "Oh."

In short, the Germs would go on to record one of the greatest albums of the hardcore era. Congratulations everybody!

Reader: "That wasn't a very good ending."

Ah, fuck you! Come up here!

Reader Comments
i'll have to agree with you on the unlistenability factor, but you left out the best darb-ism, for me anyway. as victim plods on (and for a song thats only about a minute and a half long, it sounds like an eternity), darby finishes yelling the lyrics and immediately says '"stop......STOP!!!!" the band abrubtly cuts off, and darby sweetly lisps "what's next?"
its a good album in theory, like public flipper limited. but its not any fun to listen to at all, so why would you listen to it? plus, the germs just werent as interesting as flipper. i have to agree with you mark, the only benefit here it basically that most of the songs arent on GI.

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GI - Slash 1979.
Rating = 8

This was one of the most popular albums of the early 80s L.A. hardcore scene, right up 'ere with Circle Jerks' Group Sex, Black Flag's Damaged, X's Los Angeles and Kenny Rogers And The First Edition's I Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Is In. It has some great riffs - the guitar is stinging, sounds like it's trying to bite you in the neck like a vampire or mean-spirited hot dog vendor. Bass sounds dead. Drums are crisp and nice. Vocals are completely indecipherable - performed in a rabidly retarded mushy-mouthed drunk, stoned, pilled, mecced, decked punker snear and sarnle. Produced by Joan Jett!?!?!? Lots of the tunes are high-speed and short - these are the best. There are some weeek tunes here though - don't even TRY to argue with me that the bland pop song "Dragon Lady" or ugly, slow "Our Way" and/or "The Other Newest One" ever did anything commanding of respect. They didn't. I was THERE!!!! (on the other side of the country eleven years later)

The Germs were not at all heavy. But their sound was not a typical punk sound either. As I said, the vocals are so smarmy-tard and the guitar tone so tinny, scratchy and turnoffish that it's really not the kind of punk rock record that most folks would take the time to appreciate the inherent values of - those being the interesting riffage (relying not just on chords but on notes on occasion - check out "Richie Dagger's Crime" and the strange notes in "Strange Notes," entitled strange notes quite possibly because of the use of strange notes in the song "Strange Notes") of songs like "Strange Notes," which features a strange collection of notes.

Which reminds me -- weren't Tandy Computers the best? I created this site on one! But back then, we called them M.U.D.'s.

Reader Comments
show some respect.This one is maybe the best hardcore punk record ever made.They invented drama-punk...which is not a simple thing to do I can tell you...

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* (MIA) The Complete Anthology - Slash 1993. *
Rating = 10

Named for famed women's soccer star Mia Hamm, this 73-minute CD compilation features GI (Gastro-Intestinal) in its entirety, plus another FOURTEEN awesome songs. If you only have GI, you don't have the whole story. You NEED the first single "Forming," you NEED the collection of slower but excellent hard runk pock tunes they recorded after their album became a hit, you NEED to leave me alone so I can get this damned sake out of my system.

Reader Comments (Mike Hiltz)
Yes yes yes yes yes. This is a TEN. Not the best punk ever mind you (ahem...Ramones? Great, now I'll probably get a buncha hate mail from "real" punks who think the Ramones were weenies), but great punk nevertheless. I was surprised when I heard it, expecting more speedy surf punk (seein' as they're from L.A.). But instead of speedy, thrashy Circle Jerks yumminess ("Ewwwww!"), it's like a really tasty great garage band on speed (I must be hungry...). hard and loud, not sloppy but loose, this is a helluva CD. Mark was right, your Germs collection (and life for that matter) isn't complete without "Forming" (allegedly the FIRST L.A. punk recording) and the other goodies that weren't on (G.I.). Yeah, give this one a shot. Then you can go back to whatever else you were listening to. It's just great. Go buy it, you really should. (Philip Prescott)
Yeah, this is one of those punk albums that left a major mark on me as a youth. Darby Crash was a fucking puissant retarded fuck shit whom I happen to be down with. Lexicon Devil and all if I may remind you. There is nothing more important than being happy in your life right now. If you aren't, then consider killing yourself, as that may make it better. I'm presently listening to Dentel's - Life is Full of Possibilities and that is enough for me. Dig it. I'll be a college graduate at the age of 26 in a few months and it's bullshit. Philosophy majors, fuck you. You're full of shit. Oh well. (Al)
Strange Notes - possibly the best Germs song ever
An essential cd for anybody getting in punk rock 101. You've got the Lexicon Devil EP with the GI album and well basically all the best material sound quality they did. I just like to add for all the crap they got for being people who didn't know how to play isn't all true. Pat Smear who was the most integral part of the band was a piano player before he picked up the guitar. Lorna Doom can make up bass fills better than Dee Dee Ramone ever did. And Don Bolles got drum lessons from Nicky Beat who is probably one of the most underrated drummers in the scene. Ok enough about trivia. What's there to say? Lexicon Devil is one of the greatest punk songs ever. And the Germs are THE LA punk band.
Great site Mark, I attend it quite alot. But um, here's a review. This is really one great album. I think the major problem with it though, is there's just so many damn songs and not enough time to listen to them all. I mean unless you're going to take a good hour and a half just sitting down and listening to Darby's words on politics, this is perfect. But the songs began to melt together after awhile, like most punk. But none the less this is a really good album. It's a sad thing that Davey Havok died and the drummer went to faith no more. Anyhow, really good album if you dont have it go buy it!

Oh and go rent or download the decline of western civilization for that great piece on Darby.

"Did you feel bad?" "No." "Why?" "Cause I hate painters."
Ah, the Germs. They were one band you couldn't make up. Their image was pretty great, even if dominated by flaming drug-addict nutcase Darby Crash. Darby is the band's second-biggest strength, but definitely it's biggest weakness as well. He doesn't sing so much as vomit pillbugs all over the studio, and though he does have a great yell when you can understand what he's saying, so often he's just "mueeeAHEHAHEHHHDHAUAHERRRRHHHHH" that you sometimes wonder why you're expending the effort. The reason why you are doing so, of course, is the band. For a band that supposedly never practiced, they're really tight-but-loose, one of the essential components for good ol' rockin' whether it be classic, metal, or punk. Not heavy at all, really, but fast, punchy, quite precise when they need to be, and sloppy in all the right places. Lorna Doom isn't the world's greatest bassist, but competent enough, and keeps a good tone while filling out the sound. Don Bolles and Pat Smear are two different stories. Bolles is really amazing - apparently never playing drums before joining the band. If two lessons from the Weirdos' Nicky Beat was all it took for him to reach "GI," then you gotta admit that's one talented sonuvabitch. Pat Smear is simply one of the most unique punk guitarists of all time. No other punk guitarist sounds like Smear - trebly, fizzy, fast, truly weird (Circle One, No God, Strange Notes, Shut Down) and classically glam-melodic (Lexicon Devil, Richie Dagger's Crime, Manimal, Communist Eyes), he is definitely the band's biggest and most reliable asset. All in all, it led to a really inimitable punk sound. No one sounds like the Germs - they're definitely not my favorite punk band, but they are damned good. "MIA" collects everything they ever recorded of interest, and it's an essential punk album. Much of L.A. hardcore begins here.

The accusations of being unpracticed rang loud and clear on the hilarious debut single, "Forming/Sex Boy (Live)," which Lester Bangs included in his "A Reasonable Guide To Horrible Noise," saying that they couldn't play standard Ramonesy punk yet (huh? The Germs sound nothing like the Ramones), "so they had to toddle along a guitar and rhythm track that sounded like Malt-o-Meal being trailed from dining room to TV set, while Darb puled burble whose chorus you could tell he had reached whenever he repeated the words "Pull my trigger / I'm bigger than..."

In conventional terms, the B-side was even worse, a brilliant and barely listenable audience cassette recording of the band lurching through a hilarious, staggeringly degenerate drunken sex rant while bottles broke in the background and Darby screamed at the audience between slurred verses. They even get booed off the stage at the end. The riff is actually really good, totally epitomizing the intoxicated sleaze of the lyrics: "Sex boy how do you cum/into my hand..." yeecch. Original drummer Donna Rhia shows about as much rhythmic finesse as a pencil tapping on a desk. This may not have been their first show, but it's from the day when Cheech and Chong got together the worst bands in L.A. for the band competition in "Up In Smoke," and the Germs were the one band that weren't invited back for the actual shoot. Funny as they probably became one of the best bands in L.A. in about a couple of months. Ah, sweet irony.

The "Lexicon Devil" EP shows a huge amount of progress in a short amount of time. Donna Rhia was long gone, and drummer Nicky Beat was doing double time with the band along with being the Weirdos' permanent drummer. A few days before the sessions, Don Bolles came up to L.A., auditioned, and got the drum chair, but he hadn't had time to learn the songs, so Nicky was the drummer instead. The snarky L.A. punk producer Geza X was recording the EP, and, since no one in the band owned a guitar amp, was supposed to bring an amp. He forgot. Since it occurred to nobody to put Pat's guitar through Lorna's bass amp, he went straight into the mixing board, which is why the guitar sounds so weird on the three songs on the EP. "Lexicon Devil" is a hands-down punk anthem, straight up, and Darby sounds great with a prototypical punk sneer while still being mostly comprehensible. "Circle One" introduces the Darby Crash persona (before, he'd been calling himself Bobby, that's corny), and is propelled by a great sloppy proto-speedcore beat and Pat's funny guitar dubs. "No God" is amazing, with the band sounding like a train going off the rails while Darby howls like a retarded third grader. Classic stuff.

More time elapsed between the EP and the album "(GI)." which gave the Germs time to become a much tighter and focused musical unit. "(GI)" is a classic hardcore album. Most of the songs are really good: "What We Do Is Secret," "Communist Eyes," "Richie Dagger's Crime," the new version of "Lexicon Devil" at hardcore hyperspeed, "Manimal," "Strange Notes," and the classic nine-minute noise jam "Shut Down," which was recorded live in the studio with Darby's boyfriend Donnie Rose banging the piano and the producer, Joan Jett, passed out drunk in the adjacent stairwell. "Dragon Lady" is kinda dumb, a couple of others aren't too hot either, and the songs kinda blend into each other after a while due to the uniformity of the album's production, but it's an overall classic. Bolles' drumming is crisp, precise, and really fast, Lorna's bass chugs along gamely, and Smear lays out a blueprint for future punk guitar while still sounding like no one but himself. Darb's blossomed into full-on garbled sneer and he's at his best lyrically, occasionally veering into the realm of incoherent pretentiousness, but often expressing nihilism in a quite poetic way. "(GI)" is a classic hardcore album.

The songs recorded afterwards as part of a proposed soundtrack for a bad low-budget movie with Al Pacino aren't as good, but they're still good to occasionally great. The best ones are "Caught In My Eye," another Germs classic, "Now I Hear The Laughter," with a weirdo primitive Lorna bassline, and "Lion's Share." The song "My Tunnel" sounds like it was actually recorded inside of a tunnel, and suffers because of it. I have no problem with lo-fi recording, but this is ridiculous, with the cymbals all smeared out and everything sounding like a fart in a tin can. A later version of "Forming," helpfuly entitled "Forming 2," closes out the disc, and this version is prime Germs. A great way to end, illustrating a full-circle conceit that Darby would have loved.

The Germs were a little, but only a little, overrated during their time. Richard Meltzer's overheated praise of "(GI)" makes me want to vomit. Then again, anything Richard Meltzer writes makes me want to vomit, so that's nothing new. The hardcore Germs fanatics who say Darby was the greatest ever are also annoying, but that's typical of any music fan who's a fanatic for something (just ask my siblings how they feel about me and Captain Beefheart). So, if you're into punk and haven't heard the Germs yet, get this album right now and hear some true Grade A hardcore. It's not my absolute favorite hardcore, but you can't really miss with this.
I disagree. I don't like the band's playing style that much at all and Mr Crash's singing can get pretty annoying after a while. They were lucky to have pulled out a bunch of really cool songs on their first album, which I totally recommend buying. But the rest is boring and uninspired. GI gets a 10 from me, this one a 5 or 6.
Well mr. narrator.....Its hard to explain. There's something ominous & sinister about their sound. Something dark like the underbelly of los angeles. The slurred, retarded singing, the desperate, chaotic music, strange lyrical aesthetics....there's something that sets them apart from all the other punk or hardcore bands (thank god).

The song titles alone tell you that this is an arty breed of punk rock.

Like the flesheaters, there's a strange hoodoo quality in their music. Listening to the eerie "now I hear the laughter", you half expect a (lexicon)devil with a fucked up teeth a la darby crash bustin out of the blue circle on the album cover dragging the listener down to the underground.

Considering that darby was becoming enamoured with adam ant after his trip to britain & proclaiming him to be the wave of the future, its good that he died before tarnishing the band's legacy.

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Rock N' Rule - XES 1986.
Rating = 8

The Germs were a hideously messy live band because Darby got smashed out of his mind before every show. He was probably a hoot to *watch*, but to listen to tapes of this lunatic non-singing into the non-mic fifty times louder than the music can be a bit perplexing to the ears on the sides of your head. Doesn't matter when the songs are this good to begin with though. Just please PLEASE do not start your Germs experience with a live album. After you know the songs already, you can listen PAST the mistakes and carelessness to hear that old-familiar melody buried beneath - plus it's a hilarious trip into the drunken hardcore vaudeville show of yesteryear. But if you don't know the tunes, all you catch is the noise. And the dumb stage patter - "Waitress! We're the Germs; we want beer!" Thanks, Darb. The only new tunes here are a teeny-tiny blues parody called "Art" and a track called "False Start," which is, ahem... about four minutes of audience yelling and glasses being broken while the band tries and fails to start playing their classic epic "Shut Down," which unfortunately bears no resemblance to the excellent Beach Boys song of the same name.

I'll give it a low low low 8. And it's a good thing that I'd give GI a high 8, because two low low low 8s is two love love love 8s and to.....HA!!! I'M MAKING AMERICA SMILE WITH MY REFERENTIAL ANTICS!!!!

And if you didn't get the subhead of this page, the Germs had a song called "Manimal" in 1979. Funny huh

Reader Comments
My wife thinks my daughter Darby has that name because it's very pretty, yet distinctive. But we know better, don't we :).

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