The Damned
Machine Gun Etiquette



by tom79 USER (81 Reviews)
November 29th, 2006 | 21 replies

Release Date: 1979 | Tracklist

One of the most enduring bands to emerge from the British punk explosion, The Damned can be accountable for a great deal of similar bands to follow after them, with some credit to The Clash and The Sex Pistols among few others as well. But not only did they influence punk, but also Goth rock, a style they delved into by the early eighties, but showed signs of earlier. Forming in 1976, they were the first British punk band to release a single (‘New Rose’, from their debut album). And among this first are others, they were the first British punk band to release an album and tour the US too. They also played with the two former bands mentioned for the significant ‘Anarchy Tour’ in England at the end of 1976, attracting new fans to the up and coming movement. Their first album, title ‘Damned Damned Damned’ was released early the following year and is considered a staple in British punk.

A sophomore album, ‘Music For Pleasure’, followed later that year and was written off to many as merely a rehashed version of their debut. But the album showed growth in the band that would lead up to their third and final album of the seventies, ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’, released in the final months of 1979 as the movement they helped pioneer was slowly beginning to dim. Where their first two albums were released on Stiff Records, an independent label, this album marked their first on Chickwisk Records. Notable line up changes occurred prior to recording the album and during their hiatus in 1978; Founding guitarist Brian James left the band reasoning for original bassist Captain Sensible to switch to guitar. Saints bassist Algy Ward was brought in to fill that position. Original drummer Rat Scabies retained his role as did vocalist Dave Vanian. The album is often regarded as some of their finest work, largely due to the experimentation that supports their previous punk and pop sound and future more Goth-like sound as well as the incorporation of some new instruments. But as always, the energy, a representation of their earlier works often made by Vanian’s tone, is present here which makes it a fun listen.

Some distortion and a bass line lead into the album and a Damned classic, Love Song. Chaotic guitar and Dave’s frantic vocals abound with hints of satirical takes on romance and love songs making for a great way to start off. While recording the album, the band were in the same studio as The Clash when they were recording London Calling, and you can faintly hear Mick Jones’ voice at the beginning of the title track. Speaking of which continues much in the same vein as the album opener; an under two minute, thrashing fast paced punk song with chanting backing vocals, and an unexpected bridge. It is noticeable at this point of the album that Dave’s voice as taken on a deeper tone to it that would show on later works. At times howling and at others low and monotone, he almost reminiscents Glenn Danzig of the Misfits at times. While the first two songs could easily have fit on their first record, some songs could only fit here. Melody Lee is a standout highlighted by the light piano intro before going into a familiar sound. It is also one of drummer Rat Scabies best outings on the album.

Perhaps as a tribute to one of the genre’s pioneers and inspirations, The Damned cover the MC5 classic Looking At You. It is the longest song here and indeed one of the loudest and raw. At over five minutes, it goes though many different changes and tempos, yet remains heavy, but the best part is where Captain Sensible does his lengthy guitar solo that takes over the latter half of the song. Anti-Pope is an interesting song, keeping a poppy and signature style for the band but only before going into a bongo breakdown halfway though, showing more diversity of the album. Vanian’s vocals are at his deepest on I Just Can’t Be Happy Today, and he succeeds but what makes the track stand out is the keyboard solo in the middle of the song, just like the bongos in the previously mentioned.

These Hands is certainly an oddity on the album. Possessing a circus-esque feel with horns and cymbals abound and Vanian’s dark vocals, the song sure is an experiment, whether or not to consider filler is up to you, but it doesn’t hurt the album. Noise Noise Noise and Liar are not as experimental, and are typical punk songs, but not in weak terms at all. Both serve well on the album and add to its overall consistency. The absolute highlight of the album though is the two part finale, Smash It Up. The song might be more recently known as the song The Offspring covered for the Batman Soundtrack. The song, split into two parts (first slower and latter faster), captures almost everything about The Damned; the pop sensibilities and humor, yet punk attitude and feel with a hint of their future sound making for an excellent finish to the album.

The Damned’s ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ I feel is one of the better albums to come out of the British punk explosion and should be in a punk fans collection, along with their debut. They surely rebounded from a mediocre sophomore effort; Scabies and Sensible took over as chief song writers, and did a fine job. Mixing a number of styles into a short number of songs, it shows the uniqueness of The Damned as oppose to a great number of their counterparts. With the sounds of punk, hard rock, pop, experimental, and signs of new wave/Goth/post-punk it is a great record to start with if new to the band and highly recommended for fans of the genre.

Recommended Tracks:
Smash It Up
Love Song
Melody Lee
Machine Gun Etiquette

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user ratings (178)

Comments:Add a Comment 
November 29th 2006


Great review. Ilike this band. I've got Radio Sessions One by them. It's a comp. of a bunch of sessions(duhh). Four sogns off this are on it (I Just Can't Be Happy Today, Plan 9 Channel 7, Noise, Noise, Noise, Smash It Up (don't remember which one)). They are all great.

November 29th 2006


Nice review. Classic Punk has never eally been my thing

November 29th 2006


i love your punk reviews. i have never given the damn much of a listen. off to check my music service....

Two-Headed Boy
November 29th 2006


While recording the album, the band were in the same studio as The Clash when they were recording London Calling, and you can faintly hear Mick Jones’ voice at the beginning of the title track.

So...I'm gonna be buying this.

Great review, bud. Glad to see you're keeping busy.This Message Edited On 11.29.06

November 30th 2006


Great band with a great review to match.

Pint of stella
November 30th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

Fucking great album. You can also hear Joe and Topper of the Clash in the chorus to Noise, Noise, Noise. Plan 9, Channel 7 is such a great song. Favourite Damned album.

November 13th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

Underratred & underappreciated classic.

November 13th 2008


oh hai 2 year bump by a new user

March 31st 2013



April 7th 2015


Album Rating: 4.5

this is grand

Digging: Unfathomable Ruination - Enraged & Unbound

March 13th 2016



February 5th 2017


Album Rating: 5.0

I'm going down to church tonight

Take me back to when I was eight

But I don't mean to pray

I'm gonna nick the collection plate!

February 5th 2017


Should jam this

February 5th 2017


Album Rating: 5.0

without a doubt. there is so much excellence on this album. love song, s/t, melody lee, anti-pope, plan 9, smash it up

i go back and forth between this and their debut as my favorite Damned. lately though i've been spinning this one a lot more often

February 5th 2017


Album Rating: 5.0

the black album is no slouch either

March 24th 2017


Album Rating: 3.5

good shit

Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2017


Album Rating: 3.5

this be fun

February 8th 2019


Album Rating: 4.5

best Damned

June 6th 2019



June 6th 2019


Album Rating: 3.5

damned damned damned

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