So, I’m currently sitting in the Rex Theater waiting for a band to show up. From what I understand they are over an hour away, so I got nothing to do in the meantime, so I may as well babble about GG Allin and the ‘Hated’ soundtrack.
I honestly don’t remember when I bought this CD. My guess would be around 1994 or 95 while I was still going to school. Though I did listen to it quite a bit back then, and numerous times over the years, I really can’t say whether I liked any of the music. Or if I just thought it was cool to own something so crazy. But I can say one thing for sure, the documentary that this album is the soundtrack for is fascinating, in a train-wreck kind of way. It tells GG’s story better than any other doc I’m aware of. I highly recommend it if you enjoy learning about messed up weird stuff.
To try and describe it here is rather pointless, you really must see it to really get the man and his story. This was a guy who used to get the shit beat out of him every day in high school for wearing women’s clothes. Who later became “famous” (infamous) for defecating and eating his own shit on stage. For starting fights with the crowd every show. For rolling around in broken glass and slicing himself in front of crowds. Whose song titles include ‘Outlaw Scumfuc’, ‘Die When You Die’, ‘Gimmie Gimmie Some Head’ and my favorite title ‘Suck My Ass it Smells’. (A song I will cover some day). What I’m getting at is you really need to watch this doc to get a real sense of who this guy might have been. But even then, you probably won’t get it.
Back when I first heard of him, I was fascinated. I’ve always been intrigued by all things in the extreme. The goriest horror movies, the most offensive song lyrics, the evilest sounding music, the creepiest books and short stories. If it disturbed and offended most normal people, I was 100% in. And GG to me seemed to be the living embodiment of what it’s like for someone to decide to take the whole antisocial, misanthropic, self-destructive lifestyle to the most extreme. And from I can tell, he did it all the way up until it killed him.
But here’s the thing, when I was younger, I believed that that was who GG was as a person. He wasn’t just on stage playing a part, he was the real deal. But as I’ve gotten older and understand artists, musicians, and people in general better than I used to. I’m beginning to suspect that GG really was just putting on an act. At least to a certain extent.
Though I do believe GG really was a crazy punk rocker that lived his life in the most extreme manner. I still say GG was a mask that he put on while on stage, in front of cameras, or around the public. I suspect that there was the non-public version of GG, named Kevin that lived a completely different life. I don’t know what that life looked like. I’m sure it wasn’t too far away from what everyone else thought he was. But I still think there was a secret, more down earth, less extreme, more pleasant person who traveled in different circles than the one we see in the ‘Hated’ documentary.
What’s my evidence for this? Well, it comes with the bonus content of the Hated DVD, which essentially is a video of GG’s last show and mini-riot that ensues after the show was shut down. It’s been years since I’ve seen this footage, so I’m not going to try to describe all of it. But what I remember the most about is, the show happens, GG does his thing, smashes his head through a glass window, the show gets shut down. Arguments between GG and the venue and crowd ensue, and GG, his friends, and the camera crew (who made the ‘Hated’ doc) take to the streets to avoid getting arrested. While they are running away the crowd starts to follow them. The whole time GG is bitching about everyone following him. All he wants to do is ditch the crowd, head to his friend place and get high. All this time we are seeing a version of the GG persona talking.
But then out of nowhere this hippie couple stops and starts saying “Kevin? Kevin is that you?” GG stops turns to this woman and turns into a completely different person. He gives them a big hug and starts talking in this somewhat effeminate polite voice to these people. It’s not like he just toned it down, he’s a completely different person. He goes from the most disgusting man on earth to a sweet, kind, gay hippie artist in two seconds flat. He talks with these people for a few minutes, hugs them and moves along because the crowd is still stalking him. From there he goes back to being GG bitching about the crowd and wanting to get high. He finally ditches the crowd, says goodbye to the filmmakers, and goes over to his friend place where he ends up dying of a heroin overdose hours later.
Now I have no idea who these people he stopped and talked to were. But they seemed to know the real him, or a different version of him than the crowd that was following him knew. But at the same time, he doesn’t seem to have to explain why he has a crowd of dirty punk rockers following him. So, they must have known about his stage persona. It’s only for a few minutes at most, but it gives you a small glimpse into a possible second life he may have been living while being the ‘Outlaw Scumfuc’ most people viewed him as. I know it’s not a lot to go on but makes you think.
P.S. Ok, I just did a quick Youtube search and found this footage. And it doesn’t appear to be as dramatic of a change as I seem to remember it. In fact, the whole scene is nothing the way I visualized it in my head. I remembered the scene as them approaching GG on a sidewalk, with the crowd way behind him. They call out his name, he stops turns to them, gives them a hug then strikes a different pose and mannerism, and basically turning into a gay guy for a few minutes. I also remembered the couple being like some hippy yuppie couple you’d run into at Whole Foods. They talk few a short time, and GG keeps moving.
How the scene really plays out is:
They’re all in the middle of the street. GG is trying to get into a cab and there are tons of people all around him. It’s chaotic and you can barely hear what anyone is saying. You can see GG mannerisms changes a little, but it just looks like he’s being nice to people he likes, not turning into a different person. Plus, the couple resembles a couple of meth head much more than the yuppie hippies I thought they were. The contrast of my memory to the actual footage is dramatic.
(But it goes to show, that memories are fluid and unreliable and we shouldn’t be so confident about how well we remember certain events. Which sort of puts all my anecdotal stories about my musical timeline in question. Funny how that works huh?)
So, secret artsy high society gay second life, probably not. Probably more along the lines of him having numerous circles of friends he did drugs with. The latter seems much more likely that the former.
So today we conclude the AC/DC section of my collection with a 2 Cd 1 DVD box set ‘Back Tracks’. A collection of rare and unreleased studio and live tracks. Plus, a DVD of various promotional videos. Not my favorite title from AC/DC in my collection, in fact somewhere in the last few years I apparently decided it wasn’t even worth having in my iTunes library and I had to reimport it to be able to do this review. I suspect that may have more due to accidental oversight than intentional because there several songs on the first disc that I like quite a bit and would never have deleted them. The second disc though…
Disc 1 of this collection is labeled “Studio Rarities” and is an assortment of B-Sides, movie soundtrack songs or version that only appeared on the Australian release of their early records. It is easily the best part of this set and the only reason worth owning it. And if you have been paying attention to these write ups over the last week, you can probably guess why. If you said because there are a lot of Bon Scott songs, you’d be correct. Though some of the production quality of these tunes aren’t up to the standards of their proper releases, there are some good songs on here that offer a different side of the band. Most notably is the song ‘Love Song’ which appeared on the band’s Australian debut record. To my knowledge, it is the bands only real ballad they ever recorded. Now I’ll admit it sounds like an Alice Cooper rip-off and isn’t the greatest song ever, but after listening to 11 albums worth of in your face ball busting rockers by this band. It’s kind of nice to hear them attempt to do something a little gentler. The rest of the CD goes the way you’d expect. The Bon Scott era songs are fun and entertaining. But when you get the Brian Johnson songs, they start out ok and get lamer and lamer as they progress through the years. Thankfully there are more Scott than Johnson songs on this disc.
The second disc is labeled “Live” and is exactly what it says it is. Though the disc is essentially split 50/50 between the two singer’s songs, sadly the majority are performed by Brian Johnson, which is somewhat of a disappointment*. Another let down of this set is that there really nothing rare about any of the songs on this disc. Though they may be rare versions of these tunes, it’s mainly their most popular and over played songs. I don’t even have to list the titles, just think of 10 or 12 of the last AC/DC songs you were subjected to on the radio in the last month and you know which songs are included in this collection. Now I get it, these are a collection of B sides, singles, and soundtrack songs, and it’s rather common for a band to include live versions of their most popular songs as B-side and bonuses. But as a music nerd, I want to hear songs I don’t hear every day. To be honest, when I was listening to the CD’s last night after about 6 or 7 songs of this disc I got bored and turned it off and threw on the DVD.
Which brings me to the final disc of this box set, the DVD, which is mainly promotional videos for a bunch of songs that I think originally appeared on various sound tracks over the years. For the most part, all the video’s and the songs are terrible. There is one song which Arnold Shwarzenegger is lurking about, which is moderately amusing for 30 seconds. The rest are easily forgettable songs featuring the band in various situations where they are rocking out. After the first two videos’ I couldn’t make it past the first chorus of each song before I skipped to the next tune. The only video’s I found worth watching were the few Bon Scott songs that are buried toward the end of the DVD. Even those are kind of painful.
While trying to make my way through this DVD last night, one thing stood out to me. For the past 40 years, AC/DC has not only been writing the same song over and over again, they have been making the same video repeatedly through that same time. For real, jump on YouTube and search AC/DC promotional video’s and you’ll see the same thing over and over again. All five band members will be standing in the same spot pretending to be playing the song the exact same way for every tune. Angus Young will be the only one running around, but even then, he’ll doing the exact same moves in every video. Brian Johnson will be standing in the same awkward positions pretending to scream but looking like he is not sure what he’s doing. For the few Bon Scott videos, he doesn’t even try to pretend to be singing the songs. (Though he does appear to be enjoying himself). The only difference from song to song will be the scenario that the band is rocking out in and how much effort the band decided they want to put into pretending to be playing the song. That’s it.
The only video I’d say is worth checking out is ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top (If you Wanna Rock N Roll)’. Only for the fact you get to watch the band set up in a court yard of what looks like a college campus with about 50 people standing around them looking completely confused as to what they are watching. Plus, you get to watch Bon Scott rock out on the bagpipes. That alone it worth the 3 minutes of your day.
*That’s not fair to say, he performs these songs just fine.