Album Review: GG Allin, "Always Was, Is, and Always Shall Be"

Anyone vaguely familiar with GG Allin probably only knows him as that disgusting punk rocker who takes a shit onstage. And, I suppose, the conclusion most would make about someone like that is that his music is pretty much negligible. But, oh, if only the world were that simple…

GG Allin didn’t begin his career shitting onstage. That’s something that happened later. And, it’s not as though he worked up to it from vomiting and then urinating before deciding to go the whole nine yards with the poo. Nah, it didn’t quite work that way. The “disgusting” GG Allin emerged in 1984/85 after a series of events which sent him off the deep end.

The first GG Allin LP,
Always Was, Is, and Always Shall Be, came out in 1980, years before shitting onstage was even a thought on GG’s mind. And it should have been credited to GG Allin and the JABBERS, or maybe even just the Jabbers; it’s basically like if IGGY POP sang on the first STOOGES album and then gave his bandmates the middle finger and called the first Stooges album an Iggy Pop album.

I’m not sure why the Jabbers didn’t stop their singer from calling their album a GG Allin album and using a photo only of himself on the cover, but the Jabbers, who also consisted of Allin’s older brother Merle on bass, were just another group of aspiring musicians coming from a nowhere town attempting to break into the underground scene.

Their biggest setback was just that they were behind the times, playing a sort of 60s influenced mid-tempo punky hard rock that often swings into power pop at a time when punk bands were either embracing the faster and more aggressive sounds of hardcore punk or becoming arty and experimental post-punk bands. And, when I say 60s, I mean, the riff from “Don’t Talk to Me” sounds like “I Can’t Explain”, while the biggest surprise of all is the incredibly sugary bubblegum pop song “Unpredictable.”

Like, it’s hard to believe that in five years, this guy would be singing “Drink, Fight, and Fuck” and taking dumps onstage; actually, I take that back. There are plenty of raunchy lyrics with cuss words on the first album, and I wouldn’t expect any performer to take a shit onstage no matter what he sang about. But, in any case, there’s a song called “1980’s Rock ‘n’ Roll”, and let’s just say, this cute little number sounds less like “1980’s rock ‘n’ roll” and more like something from the early 60s.

Otherwise, GG Allin’s Jabbers do “offensive” – probably by today’s standards, actually offensive – tunes like “Automatic”, which has such lovely and romantic couplets as “don’t you go messing with me emotionally/or I’ll make bleed internally”, and “Beat, Beat, Beat”, in which GG Allin tells some girl to (sigh) “beat, beat, beat, beat my meat, bitch.” While, on “Bored to Death”, “One Man Army”, and “I Need Adventure”, GG Allin sounds like a typical snotty brat who wants to make a bunch of trouble for society for no particular reason. It’s totally juvenile and not clever at all, and “Assface” is just gross, but these songs are so, so, sooo damn catchy, even if they’re really freakin’ stupid.

The Blood Orange reissue which I recently got (thanks, Steve!) has the original album – all 20 minutes of it – on side one and six great single/non-album tracks on side two.

The songs on side two are considerably tougher and more aggressive than those on side one; they’re just straight-forward punk that borders on hardcore. And, with titles like (ahem) “Gimme Some Head”, “A Fuckup”, “No Rules”, and “You Hate Me & I Hate You”, the Jabbers seem like they’re going out of their way to reinforce every media-conceived caricature of punk…

…which is why GG Allin had to step it up as an artist; even if that involved stepping in the shit. 

Edwin Oslan
Revenge of Riff Raff
14th March, 2021

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