In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week: great songs by unsavory characters.
GG Allin was a hated man, and that’s the way GG Allin loved it. His exploits throughout the ’80s and ’90s—up to his death in 1993 of a heroin overdose—are as well-documented as they are notorious. Bodily fluids, bodily solids, onstage violence, and undiluted nihilism mixed to form the foul fuel Allin ran on, and he basked in the revulsion he evoked. But he wasn’t always that way—at least not quite.
In 1979, the young frontman had yet to establish his infamy; back then he was just another kid in a punk band. That band, GG Allin & The Jabbers, released its debut single in ’79. The record’s main track, “Bored To Death,” is a classic slice of late-’70s punk. It owes plenty to The Dead Boys’ raucous, streetwise, rock-’n’-roll sneer, right down to Allin’s snarled, Stiv Bators-like pronunciation of “human race,” which is straight out of The Dead Boys’ “Sonic Reducer.” And like “Sonic Reducer,” “Bored To Death” is a hateful screed against, well, everything. Lo-fi, sloppy, and vicious, it’s also catchy as fuck—much like the many STDs Allin would pick up (and gleefully sing about) later in life.
Many have tried to peg Allin as some kind of transgressive performance artist, and perhaps he was. But he was also a reprehensible redneck asshole. But long before he became a figurehead for the death-fixated and a symbol of sheer, shit-slathered hatred, he managed to pump out a handful of actual tunes—“Bored To Death” foremost among them—that showed a hint of what Allin might have become: an actual songwriter instead of a filthy joke.