Germs - THE GERMAS

Germs - THE GERMS

Formed: Los Angeles, California, USA

Band Bio / Discography / Lineups

One of L.A.’s first punk bands, the Germs – particularly lead vocalist Darby Crash (or Bobby Pyn, though mummy and daddy would call him Paul Beahm) – embodied the spirit of American punk as influenced by the Sex Pistols. Initially unable to offer even remotely acceptable standards of musicianship, they compensated for their outrageous incompetence with hilariously abusive live performances at such legendary venues as the Masque, the Mabuhay Gardens and the Whiskey. One such deliriously ragged performance (their first) is captured on Germicide, which was released shortly after Crash’s fatal heroin overdose. It features future Nirvana bloke Pat Smear on guitar, drummer Donna Rhia and bassist Lorna Doom providing the “rhythm”, and pre-Go-Go’s singer Belinda Carlisle introducing it with the words “I left the Germs cuz they were sluts”. Depending on how sick one might be, this is either one of the funniest or most boringly inept records ever released, with the lack of musical expertise rendering all the tracks a plodding squall of out-of-tune guitars and incomprehensible vocals, punctuated by long patches of audience bating. Definitely not for fans of Journey or Sky, you haven’t lived until you’ve heard this mess. However, you’re not likely to listen to it twice. No surprise that the band was banned from the venue as a result of this chaotic gig.

They made their vinyl debut in July 1977 with the shambolic and charming Forming. The A-Side was backed by the abysmally recorded 'Sex Boy', which was recorded at the Roxy for the Cheech & Chong film Up In Smoke. They got banned after that show, too. Better still was the impressive, explosive and amazing Lexicon Devil, released in May 1978 with new drummer Don Bolles, who was mainly responsible for creating a dynamic foundation for Smear's caustic guitar.

Despite an utterly irresponsible attitude to performing live, by the time of their debut album they had become a punk machine of statuesque proportions. (GI) was so-called: the band actually changed its name to "Germs (GI)" when they released it, and the album is therefore eponymous. However, everyone knows it as a album called (GI) by a band called the Germs, so I won't break with tradition. The LP boasts one magnificent cut after another, climaxing in the tortured howl of 'Shut Down', a nine-minute meat-grinder of a song that defies the listener to remain sane. Actually, 'Shut Down' is a real chore to listen to and should have been dropped in favour of, well, practically anything.

The band split soon after when Crash kicked Bolles out of the band and decided to head for London. Lorna quit. Upon his return Crash launched a solo career, but even with Smear on board things never worked out. And so, in late 1980, Crash and Smear reformed the Germs. One of their staggeringly loose shows was filmed for The Decline Of Western Civilization, with 'Manimal' ending up on the soundtrack album. Crash, however, died of a “china white” overdose in December 1980, almost on the same day as John Lennon, in what some considered a ghoulish, conscious tribute to Sid Vicious. And that was the end of that.

Since then there have been a vast amount of bootleg singles and albums, beginning with What We Do Is Secret, a 12” mini-album compiling both singles, an outtake from the debut album (‘Caught in My Eye’), and two songs from the band’s final show.

(Cats Clause) and Media Blitz both contain stuff recorded at the Hong Kong Café in 1979 and the so-called “Canterbury Rehearsal Tape”. The latter title adds nine songs from the famous Whiskey Riot of Christmas ’79, which was also issued by as Rock ‘N Rule. The most interesting of these three, (Cats Clause) is a 10” album with an incredibly detailed booklet and the novelty of incorporating a closed groove in the lengthy ‘Shut Down’, so that the only way to bring the song to an end is to manually remove the needle from the record. The sound quality on all of these is, at best, poor.

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DISCOGRAPHY

Singles & Albums / Extraneous Releases / Bootlegs / Various Artists

Germs - FormingLexicon Devil (7", 1978)

Germs - Lexicon Devil Lexicon Devil (7", 1978)

Germs - (GI)(GI) (LP, 1979)

Extraneous Releases

Germs - What We Do Is Secret What We Do Is Secret (12", 1981)

Germs - GermicideGermicide (LP, 1981)

Germs - (DCC)(DCC) (7", 1992)

Germs - Media BlitzMedia Blitz (CD, 1992)

Germs - MIA - The Complete Anthology(MIA) The Complete Anthology (CD, 1993)

Germs - (Cat's Clause) (Cat's Clause) (10", 1993)

Germs - StarwoodStarwood (7", 1994)

Germs - Forming (Version 2) / Round And 'RoundForming (Version 2) / 'Round And 'Round (7", 2004)

Germs - FormingThe Germs (12", 2006)

The Germs - I F*#ked Your MomI F*#ked Your Mom (LP, 2007)

Germs - Lexicon Devil (Live)Lexicon Devil (7", 2007)

Germs - The Whisky/The Hong Kong Cafe - 78-79The Whisky/The Hong Kong Cafe - 78-79 (LP, 2008)

The Germs - Live At The Starwood Dec 3, 1980Live At The Starwood Dec. 3, 1980 (CD, 2010)

Germs - FormingThe Germs (12", 2016)

Bootlegs

Germs - Cruising Studio SessionsCruising Studio Sessions (7", 1985)

Germs - Lion's ShareLion's Share (LP, 1985)

Germs - Rock N' RuleRock N' Rule (LP, 1985)

Germs - What God Means To MeWhat God Means To Me... (7", 1991)

Germs - What We Do Is Bootleg!What We Do Is Bootleg! (LP, 1992)

The Germs - (GI) 7"(GI) (7", 1992)

Germs - At The Masque At The Masque (7", 1997)

Germs - We Must BleedWe Must Bleed (CDR, 2002)

Germs - What We Do Is Still SecretWhat We Do Is Bootleg (LP)

Various Artists

Tooth And Nail US LP 1979 (Upsetter): Manimal / Dragon Lady / Strange Notes

Yes L.A. US LP 1979 (Dangerhouse): No God

Cruising (Music From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) US LP 1980 (CBS): Lions Share

The Decline Of Western Civilization US LP 1980 (Slash): Manimal

What Is It. US LP 1982 (What Records?): Forming / Forming #2

Where Is J.R. ? Germany Tape 1982 (Schrott): Forming

Life Is Boring So Why Not Steal This Record US LP 1983 (New Underground): Strange Notes (Live) / Caught in My Eye (Live)

Slash: The Early Sessions US 12" 1983 (Slash): Caught In My Eye

Life Is Beautiful So Why Not Eat Health Foods? US LP 1983 (New Underground): Media Blitz / What We Do Is Secret (Live at the Hong Kong Cafe)

Flipside Vinyl Fanzine Vol. 2 US LP 1985 (Flipside): Forming (Live)

What Stuff US LP 1990 (Iloki): Forming / Sexboy (Live) / Forming #2 / Round N' Round

The Best Of Flipside Vinyl Fanzines US 2xCD 1992 (Flipside): Forming

We're Desperate - The L.A. Scene (1976-79) US CD 1993 (Rhino): Forming / Lexicon Devil

Faster & Louder - Hardcore Punk, Vol. 2 US CD 1993 (Rhino): Lexicon Devil

Punk Anderson's Favourites Germany 2xCD 1995 (Starving Missile): Forming / Lions Share

No Thanks! The '70s Punk Rebellion US 4xCD 2003 (Rhino): Lexicon Devil

Live From The Masque US CD 2003 (Dionysus): Let's Pretend

England's Dreaming UK CD 2004 (Trikont): Forming

N. Y. L.A. - The Voice Of America Australia LP (Picnic Rock): No God

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Links

Wikipedia

Steve's Germs Page

 

 

You can add stuff and make comments/corrections by emailing me at:

jane@punkygibbon.co.uk

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