(GI) opens with the powerful blast of “What We Do Is Secret.” Other stand-outs include “Richie Dagger’s Crime,” “Strange Notes,” “Manimal,” and “Media Blitz.” For a group out of Los Angeles, a song criticizing the town’s ubiquitous media is no real surprise. The inspired addition of what sounds like television samples of dialogue makes it something special however. Although I don’t know if this is true or not, the great Northwest punk group The Dehumanizers employed a similar effect a few years later with “Five or Six More Minutes of Noise.”
The real surprise is the original closer, “The Slave,” which clocks in at nearly ten minutes. I guess this is where the “closeted” prog-influences are acknowledged. The previously mentioned addition to this reissue, “Caught In My Eye” is indeed a winner. While it is debatable as to whether it truly is the strongest song on the record, it is definitely a high point. What I found very intriguing during this song are the vocals of Darby Crash. They sound uncannily like Iggy Pop, who was surely an influence on the group.
The end of the Germs is just sad, as they would have surely gone on to bigger and better things. While (GI) did not sell very well at the time of release, it has had an enormous amount of influence on the countless punk bands that formed later.
There are very few records from 1979 that really hold up 33 years later. Lets face it, a great deal of reissues are geared toward the nostalgia market, with some bonus tracks thrown in for good measure. I never owned (GI), even when I got into seriously into punk a few years later. I had heard it previously, with more attuned punk friends, and have noted how many groups cited the album as a key inspiration for them. The biggest of these was Nirvana, who actually brought Pat Smear into the fold after their first album.
I make those qualifications for the simple reason that hearing (GI) all these years later is not at all an exercise in nostalgia for me. It really is a brilliant album, and one which, surprisingly enough, sounds as fresh today as it must have back in the day. There is absolutely no question about it, if you are someone who likes punk, yet somehow missed this one, you need it.