MUSIC REVIEW | The Damned – Machine Gun Etiquette (1979)

In a nutshell Bored & Dangerous says: “One of those bands who make sure no matter how fast or assertive they get, there’s still room for melody.”

Damned 1
I knew nothing about The Damned when Spotify suggested I listen to them.  When I hit google to find their official website, the one-line description in the results for www.officialdamned.com was, “Official web site of legendary psychedelic punk group.”  Psychedelic punks?!?!?  How do I not listen to that band?

I have never heard Love Song before in my life.  But I have heard its main riff dozens, if not hundreds of times.  I’ve heard it so many times, because Me First and the Gimmes Gimmes stole it for the intro to their cover of Jerry Reed’s East Bound and Down.  Now I know why they stole it, Love Song is a brilliant full throttle pop/punk song.  Not so much on the psychedelic side though.

The title track is a bit more stripped back, garage punk-like in its simplistic, balls to the wall delivery, and lo-fi production values.  Which was really making me question the whole psychedelic thing.  Until the trippiness of I Just Can’t Be Happy Today.  A vocal style that would be known as new wave a few years after Machine Gun Etiquette, a gloriously over acted spoken word sample, even a synth solo.  It’s the kind of song that was ripped off and ruined constantly in the early 80s.

With a very English accented take on The Ramones approach to music, Anti-Pope is more cheeky than the button pushing, rebel song it’s title might suggest.  But the Ramones-like simplicity is only the beginning.  In a showcase of guitar soloing, bass bouncing and tribal beat drumming, there’s a solid minute or two in the middle of this song that proves how versatile these dudes were musically, even though they more often chose to keep things simple and to the point.  The experimentation of Machine Gun Etiquette continues with the circus waltz of These Hands.

Forget the ‘punk’, forget the ‘psychedelic’, Plan 9 Channel 7 is just a great rock song.  Before it’s back the break neck punk tempo with Noise, Noise, Noise.  But The Damned are one of those bands who make sure no matter how fast or assertive they get, there’s still room for melody.
Damned 2
I guess I was wrong a few hundred words ago when I said I knew nothing about the Damned before today.  Because Smash it Up Part 2 is a song I know pretty well.  I just feel like a real piece of shit about it though, since I think I only know because of a cover done by The Offspring when I was teenager.  I was fine with the Gimme Gimmes connection between me and Love Song, but The Offspring are really just too terrible.  But I feel like listing to Machine Gun Etiquette, and loving it a whole lot, is the beginning of my penance and alleviating that Offspring guilt

The Damned

Other Opinions Are Available.  What did these people have to say about Machine Gun Etiquette?
Sputnik Music
Rising Storm
Mini Seals of Approval

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