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Machine Gun Etiquette
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HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 28 August 2016
Two albums in ("Damned Damned Damned" in February 1977 and "Music For Pleasure" in November 1977) - and with enough personnel chopping and changing and displaying of frazzled dangly bits to embarrass a British Royal Family orgy - THE DAMNED dropped LP number three in November 1979 on the little but mighty independent Chiswick Records (a UK-only release).

But not many seemed to notice let alone be thrilled by its sheer bleached bravura - peaking at a modest No. 31 in the UK and not charting at all Stateside (an import there) when The Clash were tearing up all and sundry on the 2nd British Invasion - championed by a getting clued-up musical press.

Still snotty and insubordinate and preceded by two storming great 7" singles in "Love Song" and "Smash It Up" - "Machine Gun Etiquette" should have done better in New Wave Britain - never mind a worried and dubious America who barely saw any imports. But the album was and is a tad overlooked - a forgotten gob in the mouth of a grateful nation. Time to rectify the public's myopia and sorry lack of good taste. Here are the noisy bullets...

UK released October 2007 - "Machine Gun Etiquette" by THE DAMNED on Ace Records/Chiswick CDHP 027 (Barcode 029667028523) is a straightforward CD Remaster of the 11-track LP and is part of Ace's 'Hip Pocket' Series of CD Reissues sporting 6" Card Repro Artwork (including the album's original inner sleeve) and plays out as follows (36:50 minutes):

1. Love Song
2. Machine Gun Etiquette
3. I Just Can't Be Happy Today
4. Melody Lee
5. Anti-Pope
6. These Hands
7. Plan 9 Channel [Side 2]
8. Noise, Noise, Noise
9. Looking At You
10. Liar
11. Smash It Up Part 1
12. Smash It Up (Part 2)
Tracks 1 to 11 are their 3rd studio album "Machine Gun Etiquette" - released 2 November 1979 in the UK only on Chiswick Records CWK 3009. Produced by ROGER ARMSTRONG and THE DAMNED - the LP peaked at No. 31 on the UK album charts.

THE DAMNED were:
DAVE VANIAN [David Lett] - Vocals
CAPTAIN SENSIBLE [Raymond Burns] - Guitar
ALGY WARD [Alasdair Ward] - Bass
RAT SCABIES [Christopher Millar] - Drums

The 'Hip Pocket' card repro artwork reproduces the original British LP sleeve as was with its 'cartoon' inner sleeve (the CD has all the writing credits). The Remaster was carried out by ADAM SKEAPING at Sound Mastering and like the LP itself - ROCKS like a monster.

"Ladies and Gentleman. How do!" After the dialogue and snarling jeers from the boys - the sheer sonic assault of "Love Song" (2:21 minutes) is followed by the equally short and quarrelsome album title track "Machine Gun Etiquette" where the band sounds not unlike a boozed-up Motorhead wanting to have words in your shelllike. After the pasting the "Music For Pleasure" album received - the sheer power of the reformed band on the two openers literally screams 'we're back!'. And just when you were getting used to another nosebleed - you then get something more sophisticated but just as good - the Stranglers-tight "I Just Can't Be Happy Now" which Chiswick smartly released as a 7" single in the UK on Chiswick CHIS 120 and were rewarded with a No. 46 chart placing. "Melody Lee" is another brilliant album track as is the rhythm-rattling shakedown of "Anti-Pope" Side 1 ends with "These Hands" - a swirling laughing fairground organ song about 'turning blue' - complete with its high-heels on the pavement ending.

Side 2 opens with the riffing and strangely melodic "Plan 9 Channel 7" which at 5:09 minutes feels like Prog Rock after what went before. Chiswick put out "Noise, Noise, Noise" as the B-side to "Love Song" as far back as April 1979 on Chiswick CHIS 112 on red vinyl - a great stomper with echoed vocals about 'noises for heroes' and massive guitar from Sensible. You'd have to argue that their cover of MC5's "Looking At You" (from their 1970 "Back In The USA" LP) is one of those cover versions that rivals and at times exceeds the original and that guitar-playing throughout its 5:08 minutes is absolutely astonishing. The LP then sucker punches the listener with two fantastic Punk groovers - the 'never tell the truth' of "Liar" and the two parts of "Smash It Up". Chiswick used the faster part of "Smash It Up" as an A-side on another red vinyl 45 just before the album arrived - Chiswick CHIS 116 in October 1979 - and were rewarded with a No. 35 chart placing. A great ending to a great album.

I should mention that other issue. The November 2004 '25th Anniversary Edition' Enhanced CD Reissue and Remaster of "Machine Gun Etiquette" on Ace/Chiswick CDWIKD 250 has 9 bonus tracks - the six non-album 7" single B-sides, three new Previously Unreleased Audio Versions of key album tracks and a Previously Unseen Video of "Plan 9, Channel 7" (use Barcode 029667425025 in Amazon's search bar if you want that issue). And of course with those extra goodies it therefore offers better value for money (still available relatively cheaply too). But I'm a sucker for that repro artwork and the album presented 'as is'. It's true this 'Hip Pocket' CD would have been stronger with killer B-sides like "Burglar" from "Smash It Up" and their rattling cover of The Sweet's "Ballroom Blitz" tucked away on the flip-side of "I Just Can't Be Happy Today" - itself one of their strongest efforts. But you pays your money...

Besides you gotta love any band with people named 'Captain Sensible' and Rat Scabies'. You know Prince Phillip would approve...

Titles in Ace Records Mid-Price 'Hip Pocket' CD Series of Card Repro Reissues are:
1. DONALD AUSTIN – Crazy Legs (Ace/Westbound CDHP 016, Dec 2006)
2. THE BISHOPS – Cross Cuts (Ace/Chiswick CDWIKM 256, June 2005)
3. HADDA BROOKS – Femme Fatale (Ace CDCHM 1129, Nov 2006)
4. THE CHAMPS – Go, Champs, Go! (Ace CDCHM 1126, Sep 2006)
5. THE DAMNED – Machine Gun Etiquette (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 027, July 2007)
6. THE ESCALATORS [ex Meteors] – Moving Staircases (Ace CDHP 017, Dec 2006)
7. THE EVERLY BROTHERS – The Everly Brothers (Ace CDCHM 1127, Sep 2006)
8. FUNKADELIC – Maggot Brain (Ace/Westbound CDHP 030, Aug 2007)
9. CHUCK HIGGINS – Pachucko Hop (Ace CDHP 024, April 2007)
10. B. B. KING – The Jungle (Ace/Kent CDHP 031, Nov 2007)
11. JOHNNY MOPED – Cycledelic (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 029, Oct 2007)
12. JACKIE LEE – The Duck (Ace/Kent CDHP 032, Dec 2010)
13. LONNIE MACK – The Wham Of That Memphis Man! (Ace CDCHM 1134, Nov 2006)
14. MOTORHEAD – Motorhead [1977 Debut LP] (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 021, Oct 2007)
15. THE OLYMPICS – Something Old, Something New (Ace/Kent CDHP 018, Dec 2006)
16. THE RADIO STARS – Songs For Swinging Lovers (Ace/Chiswick CDWIKM 5, June 2006)
17. THE SONICS – Here Are The Sonics! (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 022, Feb 2007)
18. THE SONICS – The Sonics Boom (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 023, April 2007)
19. ROOSEVELT SYKES [aka 'The Honeydripper'] – Sings The Blues (Ace CDCHM 1132, Nov 2006)
20. VARIOUS – For Dancers Only [Kent's 1st Reissue LP compilation] (Ace/Kent CDHP 019, Feb 2007)
21. VARIOUS – For Dancers Also [Kent's 2nd Reissue LP compilation] (Ace/Kent CDHP 020, April 2007)
22. VARIOUS – Hollywood Rock 'n' Roll [80ts Rockabilly compilation] (Ace CDHP 026, July 2007)
23. VARIOUS – Fool's Gold [70ts Punk compilation] (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 028, August 2007)
24. LINK WRAY – Early Recordings (Ace/Chiswick CDCHM 6, June 2006
25. THE ZOMBIES – Odyssey And Oracle (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 025, June 2007)
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3 people found this helpful
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on 22 September 2016
This album along with 2 others (Damned, Damned, Damned and The Black Album) are what I consider to be this band's defining albums. Released in 1979, this album literally defies a definite classification as it crosses punk with a bit of metal and rock and throws in some crazy overtones in the process; it is, quite simply an absolute classic (I don't care who says anything to the contrary). This album goes from a 100 mph to 150 mph and then goes into a strange comical circus trip for 3 or 4 mins, then into rock mode and then some!!! Its just a powerhouse of raw energy but slightly off the beaten track and shows the band for what they really are and, that is, a really talented bunch of guys who, when they put their heads together, can really deliver the goods. Its the kind of album that you dont just need to play it at your sister.......................... you should play it to everyone and say, "listen to some real music instead of todays tacky corporate, conveyor belt gravy train of sickly pop !!!!!."

I bought the original album back in the day (and still have it) which I only played once and recorded on tape to play rather than risk damaging the vinyl) which I would never sell but, I'm so glad I bought this with all the extras; with it being remastered, giving the listener extra tracks (some never before released and other rarities) and also having a lot of information in the booklet etc., this is well worth it!!! A FANTASTIC ALBUM AND A GREAT BUY !!!!
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on 25 December 2012
Machine Gun Etiquette was my introduction to this extraordinary band and what an introduction it was. I'd heard dribs and drabs throughout my lifetime but never a full album. I cannot over-emphasize enough just how much this album blew my balls off. For weeks and weeks I shuffled around like a junked up maniac, headphones enbedded into my eardrums, with this album as my drug.

It opens up with a very subtle "Ladies and gentlement, how do?" and then it's straight into the proto-hardcore punk of "Love Song". This really sets the tone but don't get too comfortable as no more than two minutes in it's onto the Stooges-esque "Machine Gun Etiquette", heavier, faster and somehow shorter than it's bigger brother. Depression never sounded more joyous next in the 60's tinged "I Just Can't Be Happy Today", a nice u-turn from the opening two tracks underlined with a brilliant over the top organ solo.

This album reminds me of being out on the town with a coked-up buddy, constantly tripping over themselves to get the next sentence out. You're only starting to get into the brilliance of "Melody Lee" before it stops, there's a cry of BOLLOX! and you're thrown into another punky classic "Anti-pope". This one should be noted for it's cleverly crafted double tracked bass-breakdown mid-section, culminating in one almighty payoff.

The fairground dementia of "These Hands" provides a breather of sorts next, and by god you're gonna need it as it's one hell of a ride to the finish line from here on out. The highest point of the album so far comes with the sauring "Plan 9 Channel 7", the albums first real classic and one which really hits the sky at it's most intense. Special mention must go out to the lyrics on the next one "Noise Noise Noise", an obvious dig at your everyday punk man who's daily routine involves beating up his parents and kicking dogs.

The only real low point(if you even could call it that) is on the inspired but flawed cover of MC5's "Looking At You". I say this because they use the exact same formula as "Anti-pope" whereas they break down a song and build it back up. It doesn't work here because as it's done so well in the first place it feels redundant, still not a bad song by any means. Normal service is resumed next with "Liar" which includes a cracking bass-line and one of my favorite lines ever, "I'll smoke your last cigarette and say someone else did".

Every song on this album is so catchy and performed with such a high level of intensity that it's easy to forget to stand back and enjoy the musicianship. Captain Sensible had just hung up his bass and stepped up to the role of guitarist and piano/keyboard player after Brian James' untimely departure, and what a sublime job he does. Same can be said for Rat Scabies, the showy drummer who seems to put in a fill every two seconds. Sounds excessive but it suits this album down to the ground.

If the whole album up to this point has been a pleasurable listen (and it certainly was for me) then what's served up next will be the icing on the cake. Although the title of the albums closer reads crudely "Smash It Up Parts 1&2", crude is a million miles away from what they accomplish here. Remember this is 1979 and The Damned are billed as a "punk band", there were a lot of purists around who probably didn't take kindly to the songs structure, "You can't have an instrumental, you're in a punk band!" Part 1 is a gorgeous fusion of guitar and bass with sends you drifing along for a blissful two minutes before part 2 takes over and carries you triumphantly to the end.

I firmly believe this to be one of the greatest albums ever made. I'd hesitate to call it a great "punk" album because there's so much variation on offer, as is the same with The Clash's brilliant "London Calling". It barely takes it's foot off the accelerator and there's not a bad song to be heard, you know the score.
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on 1 June 2018
Sounds like it was recorded in someone's garage but choc full of bangers - Love Song, Melody Lee, I Just Can't Be Happy Today, Antipope, Plan 9 Channel 7, Smash It Up. Best served loud. Great fun!
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on 22 November 2012
I have just bought this album on cd and it sounds as fresh as when i bought it in 1979 as a spotty young punk!great music is timeless,and this is great music.i love this recording it is loud,clear and full of bass,the way it should be!if you're looking for an introduction to the damned, machine gun etiquette will do the job!buy it then play loud!!!!!!!!!! Like the cardboard cover,a mini replica of the original lp sleeve with the inner sleeve,that came with the original lp.enjoy
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on 1 November 2017
Love this album maybe there best isn't a weak moment . there's much more to the Damned than just a punk band .
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on 7 April 2012
I have this album on vinyl from when it first came out. I had forgotten just how good it was. Now i get to blast it out in the car and show all these youngsters just what they have been missing!
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on 30 May 2016
Purchased as a gift
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on 4 July 2016
Fantastic album
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on 31 January 2016
love it
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