Reviews GG Allin (un)Censored Live 1993

GG Allin

(un)Censored Live 1993

Despite the fact that the man’s been dead for more than two decades at this point, the reputation of GG Allin, self-described “public animal #1” who aimed to bring the danger back into rock and roll through live performances that existed somewhere in the netherworld between punk rock shows and performance art pieces, has only continued to grow over the years. This fact has always seemed rather amusing to me since not only was much of his rather prolific musical output of very dubious quality, but also because I sincerely doubt many of today’s punk rock fans would everEVER want to attend a live show put on by Allin given his reputation for hurling his own fecal matter into the crowd and assaulting his audience at any and every opportunity. The ultimate conundrum relating to Allin is whether or not his behavior during performances was in fact “real” or merely was an act put on to gain notoriety - there’s been speculation on both sides of that argument in the time since his demise in 1993 of a heroin overdose. 

Much of GG Allin’s albums don’t do much for me these days – performed with a variety of backing bands, they range across genres from scuzzy punk rock all the way to old-school country, but listening to the gravelly-voiced Allin bark out ridiculously obscene vocals over three-chord compositional masterpieces simply isn’t that exciting. On the other hand, viewing any of the many Allin performance videos out there is something else entirely. Usually playing in the worst venues imaginable since that’s about the only place that would book him, these shows typically involved a fully nude, bloody and sometimes shit-stained Allin, sporting the most jaw-dropping assortment of tattoos ever – bar none, violently jaw-jacking and fighting with the crowd to the point of inciting a riot most every time. As much as I realize that these gigs were no laughing matter for the attendees, it’s almost impossible to watch them with the gift of hindsight and not laugh at how outrageous and absurd they really are. At some point, songs like “I Wanna Rape You” become downright laughable- all the more once a viewer inevitably gets a glimpse of just how poorly-endowed Allin actually is – his willingness to prance around buck naked defies rational explanation.

There have been many GG Allin live videos released over the years, but of all the ones I’ve seen, Music Video Distributor’s 2014 DVD release (un)Censored: Live 1993 may be the most honest-to-goodness insane. This roughly two-hour program contains four shows recorded during Allin’s 1993 “Terror in America” tour, in which he and backing band The Murder Junkies spread a path of destruction across the country which culminated in Allin’s death following a late June show in NYC. All the shows on this tour were notoriously violent and chaotic (MVD’s previous DVD releaseTerror in America also chronicled the tour), but the first two performances featured in (un)Censored probably take the cake for being the wildest Allin shows that are commercially available. 

The opening set was recorded in Chicago, Illinois in early June and appears to have been recorded at the honest-to-goodness classiest joint Allin ever performed in. The venue has a large stage and the promoters seem to have realized what they were in for booking The Murder Junkies since the audience is separated from Allin by a wooden riot barricade and the security staff actively tries to get Allin from entering the crowd. This is quite the contrast to the usual Allin performance when he’s more or less left to do whatever the hell he wants, which usually results in problems of one sort or another. In any case, none of the efforts of the venue or staff stop Allin from giving himself an enema, defecating and urinating on an American flag and a bible before finally setting them and a bundle of firecrackers alight on stage, inserting the mic cable into his rectum while continuing to scream the vocals into a no-longer plugged-in mic, bashing his face open with broken glass, and then rolling around with open wounds on a filthy, beer-coated floor. Sound quality during this show is horrible and the vocals are completely unintelligible – but, since few viewers would be concentrating on the music in the first place, is that really a huge loss?

A subsequent June ‘93 show from Detroit, MI boasts decent sound quality (by the standards of live GG Allin recordings) and tones the level of insanity down a few notches. Still, it remains absolutely unbelievable in its level of depravity - during the most classy moment of this show, Allin grabs hold of a male fan who’s decided to sit down on stage and shoves the man’s face into his gyrating nude crotch. From this point, as the fan attempts to scurry away as quickly as possible, Allin’s proceeds to produce a steaming diarrhetic mess of feces which he proceeds to smear all over himself, consuming just a bit before he flings it into the crowd. By comparison, the two final shows on the DVD (recorded on back to back nights in Houston, TX and New Orleans, LA) are rather tame: filmed in claustrophobic, sleazeball punk clubs, these shows find Allin constantly heckling with audience members but staying away from the poop play. The Houston show is most amusing for the fact that during his touching rendition of the song “Expose Yourself to Kids,” Allin discovers a fan hiding behind a curtain at the side of the stage and proceeds to sexually assault the guy, causing the fan to panic and flee in horror. 

As is usually the case with GG Allin performance videos, picture quality throughout (un)Censored is spotty but generally, pretty good: bear in mind that this entire program was filmed with early camcorder equipment, thus it's full-frame format and doesn’t come close to the standards of today’s hi-def video. Taking into account the anarchic nature of the performances, I thought the camera does a remarkable job of capturing what’s going on and the sometimes herky-jerky images seem quite appropriate. Sound is an entirely different matter however – as I mentioned, it’s no big loss to miss out on the backing band (made up of guitarist William Weber, bassist Merle Allin [GG’s brother], and “naked drummer” Dino Sex) churning through mind-numbing three-chord punk songs, but it’d be nice if the vocals throughout the program were a bit more clear. Listening to GG verbally harass the crowd is (as was the case in many of The Mentors’ live recordings) one of the most entertaining aspects of the show. All the shows included on this DVD include the same basic set list, and its actually quite taxing to get through four separate live shows featuring different repetitions of the same songs. Much as I find some tracks (such as “Bite It, You Scum”) to be kinda catchy in a way, there simply is no reason why most people would want to sit through this amount of frankly awful scum punk in one sitting. 

Indisputably, the place to start for anyone not previously familiar with GG Allin is Todd Phillips’ outstanding 1993 documentary Hated, an hour long piece that acts as a crash course in all things GG. In terms of live performance videos, it really depends what a viewer is after: for “better performances,” I’d recommend MVD’s Terror in America DVD (the Asbury Park, NJ show on that DVD may be the best audio/video recording of a GG Allin show in existence), but I don’t think any disc that I’ve seen compares in terms of outrageous content to (un)Censored. This program captures Allin at his most violent, most transgressive – and most disgusting, leaving the viewer in awe of the fact that anyone would show up to these shows in the first place. As should be obvious, this DVD would not be for everyone or even most people, but it definitely would solidify Allin’s notorious rep and confirm many viewer’s notions of what a completely out-of-control GG show was like.

7.5 / 10Andy
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