Friday, January 8, 2010

Review #37: The Germs - Lexicon Devil (Single) (1978)


Year: 1978
Genre: Punk Rock
Sub-Genres: Hardcore
Label: Slash Records
Tracks: 3
Length: 5 Minutes (Very Short)
Style: Demented/Rebellious
My Rating: 7/8

The Germs were one of the greatest punk rock bands of their time. Formed in 1977 by Darby Crash (who was at the time Bobby Pyn) and Pat Smear, they're considered the first hardcore punk band, but that is up for dispute. I believe Black Flag actually formed a year before them, but the Germs were releasing records before Black Flag, so who the hell knows?

This is the second Germs release. It marks the "cleanest" point in their career -- the Germs were no longer a just-joking-around group that didn't even attempt to play music, but Darby Crash was not yet as fucked-up by drugs as he'd get about a year later. And unlike the previous single, the album's lyrics are slightly more coherent (not very, though). And yes, I think that's Adolf Hitler on the cover. Darby was said to have an infatuation with Hitler, as he supposedly thought of himself as a cult-of-personality-type figure. This record actually probably goes into more detail in describing that aspect of him more than any other Germs record.

1. Lexicon Devil
Like I just said, it's a song describing the mentality of a leader seeking power and control. As for the music itself, it's got a really cool riff, extremely catchy in that aspect. They re-recorded the song for "(GI)", but this version is more famous with fans.

2. Circle One
Faster than "Lexicon Devil". The lyrics are pretty much a poem in which Darby Crash rhymes his name with a bunch of stuff that you could say that he was. When the Germs were around, "Circle One", I believe, was actually some sort of cult/group that centered around Darby that some of the Germs' fans were apart of. Not much is known about it, but they say he could have had a much larger following if he wanted. The riff to the song is pretty catchy like "Lexicon Devil". This was the first Germs song I ever heard.

3. No God
An anthem to Atheism. Darby Crash sings about how he grew to learn that there wasn't a God and how he believes it to be a creation of human beings in itself. Personally, I'm an agnostic, but I still found a little comfort in this song when I was feeling persecuted for leaving my church. The song's tempo is similar to that of "Lexicon Devil". The riff is fucking awesome, and the vocals are really aggressive, here, and pretty sloppy as well (part of what I love about the Germs). The riff in the mid-section is even better than the verses. They shot a music video for this song at Target Video in '78.

So, that's "Lexicon Devil". The themes here seem to be power, religion, and insanity. Every song on this record is considered iconic to Germs fans, and they're probably the most well-known Germs songs that there are. After this record, Darby Crash supposedly started getting into heroin, and they were beginning to banned from most clubs for their apparent destructive behavior on-stage. For those who weren't into their more noise-oriented stuff, this record solidified them as a band. They went on to record "(GI)" in 1979, which was slightly less accessible than this one, but more accessible than "Forming". This album has the most linear sound of the three. So, if ya like the Germs, you've probably already heard this one. But if you haven't, give it a try!


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