Essential, is the word that comes to mind when thinking of this album...
MIA is a complete discography of sorts for the Germs, one of the first (and greatest) punk bands to make a name for themselves in Los Angeles. It contains their first few singles, the entirety of the legendary GI album, and other various odds and ends. There are a handful of songs absent from this release, but unless you are obsessive, this is the only thing you need from these guys.
There has been so much written about the Germs, that I feel it to be rather unnecessary to dissect the history and significance of the band and charismatic trainwreck of a lead singer, Darby Crash. Instead of giving a history lesson that most of you are probably already familiar with, I'll get to describing how much ass they kicked.
MIA is fascinating in how it chronicles the progression of the band. The album kicks off with Forming, which, to my knowledge, is the first punk single to surface in LA. It's a simplistic, primitive rocker that sounds like it was made by a band that was still learning how to play their instruments. The song's a classic in it's own right, but it was obvious the band was still in the process of becoming a cohesive unit. From there, the album moves on showing the band tightening up and developing the sound that would make them legends.
For those of you unfamiliar with the sound of the Germs, think a faster, tighter, more aggressive Sex Pistols and add the Ramones' sense of melody. This is pushing it really, but it is the closest comparison I could come up with. The band really was doing their own thing, and one listen to this album will tell you that a million bands past and present blatantly cribbed from them. It should also be noted that the roots of what was to become Hardcore can be found in several of these songs.
Now on the topic of Darby Crash, a regular punk icon and legend in the vein (no pun intended... seriously) of Sid Vicious. The guy was a fucking maniac that unfortunately adhered to the old punk mythos of living fast and dying young (he overdosed on heroin at the age of 22). What fascinates me is that the kid was incredibly bright, something you wouldn't expect from the first generation of needles and nihilism punk rockers. His lyrics are surprisingly poetic and insightful, standing in stark contrast to the way he spits them out at you. Truly an interesting character.
I could go on forever about the significance of the Germs, but I'll leave it like it is. If you enjoy early punk (or any punk, really) this record is a necessary purchase. You won't be disappointed.