Review Summary: We Must Bleed
Everything began with a germ. It comes as a surprise that this record hasn't been reviewed. Sputnik has almost become a musical library for me. While there are loads of obscure and/or lesser-known artists with just mere ratings, this one had me scratching my head. This is one of the earliest hardcore records to be recorded (1978) and also one of the most popular. It's lean sound has earned it's points among punk rock and its's fans. Many people consider the Germs to be of legendary status with the likes if Black Flag, the Sex Pistols, Bad Brains, etc.
It is easy to agree when the record starts spinning and "What We Do is Secret" begins with its four count bass drum swiftly thudding your brain. "Standing in the line we're aberrations
Defects in a dedects' mirror" After a minute of superb poetry and a barrage of chords the song viciously comes to a halt. "Land of Treason" packs a lot into a short minor-chord buzz. When "Richie Daggers' Crime" chorus creeps into your ears you are sucked into Pat Smears aggressive yet atmospheric guitar style.
The band perfectly complement each other. The have individual stand out moments but they are soaked in brevity and purpose. Listen to Smears minimalistic chugging in "Manimal" that effortlessly sets the bed for Darby's lyrics. Occasionally he throws a bombastic chord or slide to add to the songs tension and mood. Side A ends with "We Must Bleed" which shows the rhythmic talents of Lorna Doom and Don Bolles. The song is so fast and funky you can't help but burst into some sort of physical freakout. I once got my body slammed into a full-length mirror while that song played. Great times my friends, great times.
While most of the hype around the Germs is Darby Crash, it is the rest of the band that truly make them compelling. While Crash does have cryptic and mind-bending lyrics, his vocals can be annoying to many listeners. I love his snarling drawl. He sounds like a drunk philosopher with a heroine addiction for the duration of the record. This perfectly adds to the bands style. If Darby "sung" these songs the entire record would feel completely different. While the record is considerably tame compared to their live shows (due to it's thin production, by Joan Jett), this ain't no easy listening folks. This a punk record. One for the few, not the many.
This is the only true LP from the Germs. They do have a slew of releases though. However, none were as tight, clean, and devastatingly gnarly as GI. Despite their questionable reunion with an actor, This record really shows the germs at their peak. A great early punk record and should be considered a landmark in the genre.