Compiled/written by Jason Litchfield
"Then, screaming “Fuck you, you pussies!” the band went into the most useless convulsions I’d ever seen. GG was a horror show. His face went blank, his mouth hung agape. He began crawling around on the floor like some parasitic reptile just out of its lightless cavern. If he got near the crowd they pushed him, spit on him, dragged him around like a piece of meat. And through it all he seemed oblivious. Behind him, the band fired off high tension noise — fast, distorted, dangerous. GG screamed a few inaudible lines, broke the mike, and let the band finish up the number while he dove onto tables, only to get savagely dragged down again." — The Times (Durham, NH) circa 1982
My home state of Rhode Island has always been fertile GG Allin land. Back in high school in the mid- to late-1980s, every time we'd take frequent jaunts to the local used record stores there'd be the brand-new Black And Blue reissues right there in front in the "A" bin. The first album I remember looking at was "EMF" — the liner notes by local label honcho / GG pal Peter Yarmouth were intriguing, compounded by the secrecy of the song titles. It wasn't long before a copy of "Dirty Love Songs" reared its (literally) ugly head, then the succession of Homestead vinyl, and soon this logic-defying aberration came into focus. But I kept going back to the "EMF" album cover, wondering how this guy got from point A to point B. I mean, you don't just crawl out of your basement, line up your first gig, and introduce the world to the GG Allin freakshow. It had to start somewhere. Like in the Wolfman and Amazing Colossal Man flicks I thrived on as a youngster on Creature Double Feature, a transformation had developed. How does one go from a relatively benign "Automatic" and arrive eight years later with "Sleeping In My Piss" and a “Fuck You” tattoo?
I started, of course, at the beginning. The Jabbers were the only real, consistent band that GG had until the Murder Junkies. Back when he billed himself as the Madman of Manchester and Public Animal No.1, GG Allin & The Jabbers gigged heavily throughout the Northeast, earning a reputation as a problem act and accumulating an ever-growing list of club bannings. But the Jabbers were more than a bunch of troublemakers trashing clubs — there was some serious musicianship and networking going on here, with Cheetah Chrome, David Peel and Wayne Kramer and Dennis Thompson of the MC5 on the list of collaborators. The Jabbers served as David Peel's backing band for dates in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, playing both their own set and then coming back out with Peel. At the Living Room in Providence, when GG first filled in for Cheetah Chrome's band on drums, Cheetah was so impressed with his playing that he asked him to join the band (the offer was undoubtedly appreciated, but declined).
This portion of GG's life marked probably the most stable and "normal" as it got: he was married to his high school sweetheart, worked a regular job as a custodian at a nursing home, and answered to Kevin when not under the guise of his stage name. So where did this cryptic alias come from? It's common knowledge now, thanks to the internet, but back then it was pretty shocking to find out that GG's birth certificate name was in reality Jesus Christ Allin. ("GG" is the phonetic spelling of toddler Merle's misprononciation of Jesus as "Je-Je.") I'll skip the details (put your favorite search engine to use), but suffice to say a traumatic childhood left psychological scars that plagued him until the end, through divorce, alcohol and drug abuse, self abuse and an unfulfilled public suicide plan.
This discography spans GG’s career through 1986, stopping before the signing to Homestead. From there on, the releases are well-documented and, in a way, less interesting. The first installment covers the Jabbers and pre-Jabbers years from 1977-83, up until their last release as a functioning band. Luckily (for me) in the late-80s, GG was considered little more than an embarrassment, a bad joke, to most punk shoppers and store clerks alike, so his original vinyl was still frequently available at reasonable or downright cheap prices in used shops in New England. $2.50 for an original "Always Was" LP and $3.99 each for the three Orange singles, anyone?
What follows is a mix of second-hand and third-hand history, vintage anecdotes, educated guesswork, and a steaming load of grueling collector scum minutia. Try not to soil yourself.
(Clicking on the sleeves will take you to separate pages with front/back images, alt sleeves, inserts, etc...)
Mal Practice Band – Love Tunnel / Devil’s Triangle (7-inch)
Label: FU Angel 0001
The unlikely starting point for the GG Allin saga - an unremarkable barband-style outing whose desirability would be comical if it weren’t for (competent) drummer Kevin Allin and his brother Merle on bass. Malpractice, based in Vermont while Kevin and Merle still lived at home, gigged steadily throughout the Northeast, even playing the Rat in Boston on at least one occasion. Though GG in an interview in the late-1980s described the band as “ahead of its time,” this sole recorded documentation proves ultimately nondescript. As is a familiar story to the Killed By Death collector, this 45 was incredibly rare until Merle obtained quantity from the band’s manager while back home in New Hampshire around the time of GG’s funeral. The record basically never was issued with a picture sleeve, although two known copies exist of an original crude sleeve with a band photo pasted to thick cardboard and the center cut out so the record label showed through. Merle made up his own sleeves circa 1993 using this band photo on one side and a different photo on the flipside, and these are largely the copies that have been circulated on eBay and sold back in the day in Maximum Rock'N'Roll classifieds. And for those perplexed by the odd label name, it’s directed at Johnny Angel, leader of the Thrills, who Kevin did not get along with. (Merle joined the Thrills and moved to Boston the following year. Kevin was invited as the drummer, but declined.)
(Right click and "Save as..." to listen to a portion of a GG self-interview)
GG Allin & The Jabbers – Bored To Death / Beat Beat Beat // One Man Army (7-inch)
Label: Blood 59
Twenty-three year-old Kevin Allin (drums, vocals), his brother Merle (bass), and a local guitarist assault the reel-to-reel with some Iggy-cum-Ramones inspired basement punk rock. Resurrecting his childhood nickname and shedding the backseat skins role for frontman duties, GG initiated with this debut a barrage of tasteless tunage and self-promotion that would fester and multiply for the next 14 years. Self-released on his own Blood Records in a likely edition of 500 copies, this remains one of the two most elusive GG singles. To add insult to injury, two sleeve variations exist. The first sleeve contains two crossed knives (i.e., “jabbers,” get it?) on the upper right corner, and no graphics on the back, just typed credits. The second version replaces the knives with a small photo-booth shot of a young GG sporting a Ramones t-shirt, and the back is graced with a picture of GG giving the finger (from the same fruitful photo-booth session). The paper stock on this version matches the sleeve on the next single, “Cheri Love Affair,” leading me to believe that he probably made up a new batch of sleeves (adding his photos) around the time “Cheri” came out. Seeing as the covers were all cut, folded and glued by hand, I’m guessing he didn’t re-press the single; rather, he most likely didn’t create enough for the entire pressing first time around and needed to whip up some more.
After cutting this single, GG assembled a band in order to play out live. With Merle departing for Boston to join the Thrills, GG recruited childhood buddy Alan Chapple on bass duties. Chapple stuck with “Kev” through the entire Jabbers career and also appeared on the “Live Fast Die Fast” single. Guitar and drum slots remained in heavy rotation.
“I was listening to stuff like Wayne County, the Fugs, the MC5, the Mothers Of Invention, and I thought, 'Let’s start this fucked up band and break shit and rip girls’ clothes off and stuff,' and I did it as a gimmick, a joke. I thought I’d give up after about a year and laugh about it later.” — GG in Conflict #43 (Jan/Feb 1987)
“This is pure junk, I mean punk, so raw you’ll think your stereo’s broken. Not an inkling of intellect, talent or innovation is on this record. The lyrics are dumb and offensive. We recommend it.” —Boston Rock review (Jan/Feb 1980)
GG Allin & The Jabbers – Cheri Love Affair / 1980s Rock N Roll (7-inch)
Label: Destiny 911077
Destiny was a recording studio in Massachusetts which offered package deals: record your tunes and have them handily pressed on the Destiny label all for one low price. As a result, the Destiny discography is quite, um, eclectic, with only one true punk record — and it’s not even GG’s! (Alas, that honor goes to Genral Foodz.) The existance of “1980s Rock And Roll” can only be justified as a bizarre attempt for commercial airplay. I mean, how can you keep a straight face when there’s lines like “Come on along it’s a rock and roll party / Bring all your friends and don’t be tardy”? I’ve a hunch this tune never made it to the clubs. On the other hand, “Cheri Love Affair,” which, judging from tape archives and set lists, never made it to the live circuit either, swaggers and struts with a cool Dolls/glam vibe. I prefer this 45’s version to the album mix, stripped of the overbearing female background vocals and humorous “Pussy Summit Meeting” introduction. At the very least, this record is essential for the sleeve alone...with GG looking uncharacteristically cleancut and suave in his button-down shirt and sportscoat on the back cover! Again, the educated guess is a 500 press, and judging by the scarcity of the disc, I wouldn’t be surprised if an embarrassed GG didn’t toss a chunk of them himself a few years later.
“We’ve been playing since 1978...At first we’d play a club and everyone’d leave or go to the back of the room cause here’s this guy spazzin’ on the floor and nobody could take it.”
—GG in Inner Mystique #1 (December 1982)
GG Allin – Always Was, Is And Always Shall Be (12” LP)
Label: Orange ORA-777
Tracks: Bored To Death / Beat Beat Beat / One Man Army / Assface / Pussy Summit Meeting / Cheri Love Affair // Automatic / I Need Adventure / Don’t Talk To Me / Unpredictable / 1980s Rock N Roll
GG’s debut album marks the beginning of his 1980-85 stint on David Peel’s Orange Records label. (It’s interesting to note that on the first 45, Peel is thanked with “maybe next time,” so apparently the two had discussed recording for the label from the beginning.) The Jabbers — which at this time included Carl Square and Bob Mackenzie from Boston band the Mighty Ions — had recently recorded five tracks at New Hampshire’s N.C.S. studios. One of these, “Don’t Talk To Me,” was a Mackenzie original that GG kept in the set even years after the two Ions split later that year. The production quality was much better on these newly recorded tracks (“Assface,” “Automatic,” “I Need Adventure,” “Don’t Talk To Me” and “Unpredictable”), and it’s too bad the band didn’t bang out a handful more while they were at it. Don’t get me wrong, the LP is great for what it is… but at barely 25 minutes and containing only five new tracks, it’s not as stellar as it could have been.
Apparently the album was originally credited to GG Allin & The Jabbers, but GG changed the artwork from its band-photo cover to the “teen idol” shot (as Merle referred to it), nixed the Jabbers from the band name and may have even turned up his vocals in the final mix, all unbeknownst to the band. A diehard music fan fascinated with meeting famous people and collecting autographs from his favorites, GG also seemed enamored with being famous. By far, more copies of “Always Was” pop up with GG autographs and ramblings in the upper lefthand corner than than without. Some copies contained various hype sheets and gig flyers as well.
The album’s title is not so much a proclamation of the punk rock and roll contained therein as it is GG literally announcing his identity: Kevin always was, is and always shall be GG, he felt, and within a few years he would completely morph into his alter-persona and spend the rest of his life making sure everybody knew just who he was, too.
The album was first reissued in 1983 by Blitz Records in Sweden, with red artwork near-identical to its black-and-white predecessor. Later Black And Blue reissues packaged the LP along with most tracks from the subsequent three singles.
“The album was kinda half-assed, we just wanted to get something on vinyl, just to have something out that we could work off of.” —GG in Conflict #43, Jan/Feb 1987
GG Allin – Gimme Some Head / Dead Or Alive (7-inch)
Label: Orange ORA-69
Through David Peel’s matchmaking, GG’s next outing featured two big names: the MC5’s Wayne Kramer on guitar and Dennis “Machine Gun” Thompson on drums (credited as the MC2 on the record label). GG must’ve been pumped to rock out with two of his adolescent heroes, and the resulting studio effort is arguably his finest recorded moment. “Gimme” was an early live show staple which GG would introduce by asking “How many girls out there like to suck cock?” and demanding a show of hands. “The guys need to know who to take home tonight!” (Judging by the live tapes I’ve heard, the female attendees weren’t too eager to divulge this information.) All indications suggest this was the best-selling GG release back then — in the couple-thousand ballpark — with the Kramer/Thompson association no doubt adding “legitimacy” to a relatively unknown performer.
The December 1980 recording session also produced a third track, “Occupation,” which lay buried until the late-1990s when it was bootlegged. It’s too bad this song never appeared during the Jabbers’ heydey, as it’s a great snotty Stonesy garage punker with the hallmark Wayne Kramer noodling. And it’s notable, as with “Dead Or Alive,” as one of the few curse-free GG cuts.
(Right click and "Save as..." to listen to "Occupation")
Stripsearch – Jesus Over New York / Galileo (7-inch)
Label: Vinyl Repellant 811216
Back in the late-70s, poet/performer Emily XYZ, then a college student in Buffalo, NY, received a copy of GG’s “Bored To Death” EP for review in her zine. The two corresponded and soon became good friends, staying in sporadic contact until the end. In 1981, GG and Al Chapple headed up to Outlook Studios in Maine to play drums and bass, respectively, on Emily’s debut single. The two tracks, produced by Willie Alexander, are catchy female vocals punk-wave (no keyboards), a bit of a departure from what you’d expect to hear the boys playing. The record was not issued with a picture sleeve, only an oversized folded single-sided insert with lyrics, credits and bits of collage artwork. Many copies turn up without this insert, though I’m not sure if it’s because a majority of the pressing was issued without them or if they were just a casualty of time. (In the late-1980s Newbury Comics in Boston stocked copies with each of the four band members’ names rubberstamped, or possibly printed, on each corner of the white innersleeve. I saw these in person but never picked one up at the time. These were most likely old stock copies that either GG or Emily brought over for resale, spurred on by the surge in publicity circa 1988-89.) Emily released a second 45 “Hey Kid” b/w “Who Shot Sadat?” the following year, complete with sandpaper cover, but GG and Al did not perform on it.
“GG Alin was smart, quick-witted, foul-mouthed, and hilarious. Also polite. Great company and totally devoted to rock n roll.”
—Emily XYZ, liner notes to “No Shit… It’s The GG Allin and the Jabbers Tribute” CD
GG Allin – You Hate Me & I Hate You // Automatic / Assface (7-inch)
Label: Orange ORA-70
It seems odd that the Jabbers’ standard live opener “You Hate Me & I Hate You” hadn’t been recorded for the LP — rather, it’d be released two years later, packaged with two of the best songs from “Always Was.” My only guess is that funding was low, so the studio time went towards the GG anthem, and he lifted “Automatic” and “Assface” to round out the ideal Public Animal No. 1 experience, so to speak. As with most of the singles, GG also played drums on the title cut. Perhaps growing aggravated by the near-irrelevant status the band was becoming relegated to behind GG, members of the Jabbers placed “and the Jabbers” stickers below GG’s name on the covers of some copies. Most copies of this EP came with a standard insert, the one that would also end up (looking like a 10th generation copy) glued into the first Scumfucs EP. The UK label Catch-22 released the “Public Animal No. 1” three-songer on cassette with slightly modified artwork. I know of only one copy of this, and sadly it’s not in my clutches.
“Boston people are a bunch of jerks. We go down there to play and tell ‘em ‘You fuckin’ people suck’ — we just jump on the tables and throw beer and spit at them.”
— GG, Inner Mystique #1 (December 1982)
GG Allin – No Rules / A Fuckup // Up Against The Wall / NYC Tonight (7-inch)
Label: Orange ORA-71
The “No Rules” EP marks the last vinyl outing for the Jabbers, and also marks the last time GG recorded in an actual studio for quite some time. The crisp uptempo poppunk captured on this release would soon give way to the lewd basement slobber-trash he’d revel in during the mid-80s. GG’s drumming here is tight and spot-on. “NYC Tonight” is actually a live staple which was called “You’re Wrong, I’m Right” for years. GG also snuck in an uncredited cover of the Ohio Express’ “Up Against The Wall” (from their 1969 “Mercy” LP). Looks like our man was a quite the bubblegum afficionado! Generally this EP did not come with an insert, however, Collectorscum scored a former DJ’s copy which, although sleeveless, came with a previously unseen autographed insert/hype sheet.
(Right click and "Save as..." to listen to "You're Wrong, I'm Right" live)
“GG Allin had to be removed from the stage at the Frolics in Salisbury Beach (Massachusetts) by members of the Salisbury Police Dept. GG, who at the time was squirming around on some broken glass in front of the stage, said the show was just getting started.”
—Preview Paper, Lawrence, MA (1982)
Various Artists – You’ll Hate This Record (12” LP)
Label: The Only Label In The World LP001
Tracks: A Fuckup / No Rules
Well-known for the plastic vomit glued to the cover, Mykel Board’s (Artless, Maximum Rock N Roll) 1983 compilation LP possesses two 1982 GG tracks, “A Fuckup” (the LP’s kickoff track) and “No Rules” (the closer) — both appearing with a slightly different mix than the EP. The bass is louder, giving them more power, and the vocals might be set back just a tad. The bottom sound definitely gives these tunes some extra kick, and it’s recommended picking up this album for these alternate mixes — it rarely breaks the $10-$15 mark.
GG Allin & The Jabbers – Tasteless Animal Noise (homemade cassette)
Year: Late 1982
For quite some time, before the reissue flood started in the mid-90s, the only way you could hear unreleased Jabbers tunes and early live antics was on the ultra rare “Tasteless Animal Noise” cassette. The selections are culled from various gigs throughout New England — Club Merrimac in Merrimac, NH, the Living Room in Providence, RI, the Channel in Boston, and the West Haven Dump in Connecticut — and strung together into one “complete” show. Things kick off with a radio promo ad for the first LP, produced by the Allin brothers’ hometown buddy Jeff Penney. Besides some entertaining live banter, the tape boasts a few cuts never before released: “Nuke Attack” (later transformed with the Scumfucs into “I Wanna Piss On You”), “I’ll Never Call,” sung by Al Chapple, and cover versions of the New York Dolls’ “Pills” and the Stooges “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Also included is the original version of “NYC Tonight” when it was called “You’re Wrong, I’m Right.” Studio versions of “Nuke Attack” (with guitarist Rob Basso handling vocals) and Chapple’s “I’ll Never Call,” outtakes from the May 1980 “Always Was” sessions, were dusted off and finally released on the Jabbers tribute CD.
(Right click and "Save as..." to listen to "I'll Never Call/Pills")
(Right click and "Save as..." to listen to "I Wanna Be Your Dog")
"I always had some kind of drug on me, usually Valiums, so GG would do the song “Pills” and dedicate it to me. I would go up to him and give him a handful of pills and he’d gulp them all down in one swallow. Sometimes I don’t know how he could still stand at the end of the night.”
—Julie Thalin, longtime friend and fan of The Jabbers, liner notes to “No Shit… It’s The GG Allin and the Jabbers Tribute” CD
Next time, we’ll cover 1983-86, spotlighting some very scarce homemade cassettes that served as the original issues of the Scumfucs classics later compiled on “Hated In The Nation” and “Dirty Love Songs.” Divorced, essentially bandless and free of any conventional ties, GG succombs to his inner twisted, seething psyche...
Back at home, Sandy wanted her and GG to go to a psychiatrist to see if they could save a crumbling marriage, but it was more than that. Nobody knew who GG was anymore. He was living a double life. All everyone told him was that it was just a passing phase, but it wasn’t, and GG was confused. First he was Jesus Christ Allin, then he was Kevin Allin, and in all reality he had always been GG Allin. He was trying to work a straight job, trying to be a married man, and deep inside he was GG Allin, but he just couldn’t surface. He used to sit and hold his head, asking himself, “Who am I, who am I?” and one day he told himself, “I am who I am, GG Allin.”
— Kevin M. “GG” Allin, from unpublished autobiography, printed in “Fucked, Banned, Framed” zine, 2003.
Contact Mr. Litchfield with info/questions at anxiousjerk-at-cox.net
Special thanks to M. Physema and Doil.
Anecdotes from the original Jabbers.
An interview with Peter Yarmouth of Black And Blue Records with some interesting Jabbers-era stories.
Got a city, time period, region, label, genre or whatever that you think we need to do a field guide to? Think you can do it yourself? Send all requests and submissions to termibore-at-aol-dot-com, we're always looking for quality help.
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