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Shane’s Music Challenge: THE DAMNED – 1979 – Machine Gun Etiquette

| 30 January 2014 | Reply

THE DAMNED – 1979 – Machine Gun Etiquette
By Shane Pinnegar

The Damned - Machine Gun Etiquette CD

The Damned’s third album is a whirligig of snotty riffs and arty concepts, all wrapped up in punk energy, though bearing very little in common with the shouty, spitty cliché that ‘punk’ would come to represent.

Second album Music For Pleasure had suffered with the loss of creative meistermind Brain James, and the band struggled to find their feet a little. No sign of that here, though – the track list reads like an early list of achievements: Love Song, I Just Can’t Be Happy Today, Plan 9 Channel 7, not to mention the brazen and whacked out Smash It Up parts I and II.

I have the reissue version, with a clutch of extras including the acid-nightmare of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit in an extended version, and a completely barmy, riotous take on Ballroom Blitz (originally the B-side of I Just Can’t Be Happy Today, if memory serves me – Andrew Lowry from school had a copy) featuring Lemmy Kilmister on fucked up, mad bass.

The best thing about The Damned was their sense of humour and intelligence. Every song is fun to listen to, musically and lyrically, and can you just imagine seeing them live at this time, with Dave Vanian in an undertaker’s suit, Captain Sensible wearing some fluffy onesie monstrosity and Rat Scabies bouncing around like a man possessed to destroy his drumkit? Interestingly, Algy Ward played bass on this album after a stint with Aussies The Saints, and went on to form (and still lead) NWOBHM semi-legends Tank.

Best stuff: You can’t ignore Love Song’s ironic clatter, I Just Can’t Be Happy Today or the later-covered-by-The-Offspring Smash It Up, possibly The Damned’s best moment.

Category: Shane's Rock Challenge

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