What’s the Rockbrat Listening To Today? GG ALLIN – Always Was, Is And Always Shall Be LP (1980)

Well it’s a few days out from Christmas and I find myself listening to the decidedly anti-festive sounds of GG Allin. Maybe its cos he was born with the birth name of Jesus Christ Allin (I think his Mother sensibly changed his name to Kevin just before he started school). He’s a fascinating, and somewhat divisive individual is GG. Not one for the kiddies – but intriguing nonetheless. From what I understand, off stage he was a quiet individual, yet when consumed by GG, he was one angry ant. There’s a bunch of footage of GG on Youtube and I was watching his last interview from June 1993 on US TV chat show, ‘The Jane Whitney Show’. Dressed in his leather jacket and WWII-era German helmet, GG rants and raves and is one ball of blazing anger – yet when asked by the interviewer, GG, almost pathetically, can’t really articulate why he is so angry, or why the kids of the world should ditch their parents and follow him. The irony is that from the mid to late 80s onwards he was more of a curio artist than a punk rocker, hell bent on self-destruction. People turned up to see the violence, to see him assault himself, others, to see the blood, to see the show. People were drawn to his show to see the freak, who may die on stage (as he once self-prophesized). He spent all of 1990 incarcerated, and thematically, his music was even darker upon his release. Many of his better tunes are lost among the man’s myth – and that’s a shame, cos there are some pretty good tunes there if you separate the cream from the, ahem, crap. The Murder Junkies album he did with Antiseen is often regarded as his best work, and indeed, there are some good moments on this album. The album consists of spoken word by Allin, interspersed with musical tracks featuring Allin on vocals backed by Antiseen. Jeff Clayton, lead singer of Antiseen has stated that Allin was very professional during the recording of the album, and he wondered how much of Allin’s stage act was real and how much of it was “for the marks.” When you consider that Allin had a partiality for non-mainstream outlaw country artists Hank Williams and David Allan Coe – one wonders that if Allin could have ditched the obsession with violence and self-destruction, his output, career and legacy could have taken a whole different route. He did a tune called ’Bite it You Scum’ which was probably one of his more melodic moments from the latter part of his career. People are attracted to Allin the way some are fascinated with serial killers. For someone who preached about such uplifting themes as violence, death, murder, rape, anarchy etc – there’s not a lot of redeeming features left over, yet if you get past that, some of the music, (certainly up to 1985) and his early work with The Jabbers sounds as good as a lot of the other first wave punk peers of the late 70s. Check out GG’s debut solo album from 1980 ‘Always Was, Is and Always Shall Be’ for proof of this. This is a WAY underrated punk album and on par with anything The Dead Boys released. The music is of much higher quality in terms of both sound recording and playing than Allin’s later output – with GG’s voice sounding great and markedly different to the growl he developed in latter years. The heavily New York Dolls / Stooges-influenced album is a catchy mix of power pop and hardcore punk, like most of Allin’s early material up until the mid-1980s. (and the album was produced the Lower East Side’s David Peel). Thematically, while the lyrics are often intentionally lewd and snotty, these songs do not represent the extreme antisocial and violent tone of his later releases from the mid-1980s onwards. Steve Huey, reviewing for AllMusic, accurately said of Always Was, Is And Always Shall Be “Amazingly enough, the violent hatred, sexual and psychological degradation, and staggering stupidity only hint at the heights (or depths) Allin would reach later.” True enough. This is a great punk record that not enough people know about. Go discover.

 

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