Sunday, 28 August 2016

"Machine Gun Etiquette" by THE DAMNED (2007 Ace/Chiswick 'Hip Pocket' CD Remaster in Card Repro Artwork) - A Review by Mark Barry...





"...Just For You...Here's A Love Song..."

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...and...

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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