We make an awful lot of band line-up t-shirts here at Red Molotov; so many, in fact, that you may think we choose the bands we feature at random.
Not so. The bands we feature on our line-up t-shirts have to either be a) genuinely brilliant or b) thought of as brilliant by enough people. That’s why we don’t have a Keane line-up, for example. Go on, search for them. You won’t find one.
Anyway, we’ve decided to honour some of the bands that feature on our t-shirts with their very own post on the Red Molotov blog; a kind of hall of fame sort of deal, if you will. It’s undoubtedly the pinnacle of any respectable musical acts career.
For our inaugural band post, we’ve chosen to focus on a record by a band that perhaps don’t get as much respect as they deserve; ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ by The Damned.
Ah, The Damned. While the Sex Pistols were busy either annoying the monarchy with impromptu performances on the Thames or swearing at old men on television or The Clash were transforming from reggage-punk pioneers to arena rock gods, The Damned were busy being the first punk band to do things. They were the first punk band to release a single, the first to release an album, the first to tour America and, impressively, the first (probably) to get kicked off a Sex Pistols tour.
‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ wasn’t The Damned’s first album, however – that was ‘Damned, Damned, Damned’, a riotous album by four young punks riding the crest of a cultural explosion.
‘Machine Gun Etiquette’, while feature three of those four young punks, was an entirely different proposition, an album written by a band that had been put through the punk wringer and split up as a result. A band whose second record ‘Music For Pleasure’ was met not by the kind of spite you get the impression The Damned might have enjoyed but rather a reaction much worse; apathy.
‘Machine Gun Etiquette’, then, was a comeback album. The line-up at the time consisted of gravedigger-slash-vocalist Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible, Rat Scabies and newbie Algy Ward – the very line-up immortalised on our t-shirt.
It’s for good reason we chose that line-up because ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ is arguably the finest record to emerge from the British punk movement of the ‘70s. Combining the fast and raw energy of punk with pop sensibilities and early experimentations with the Goth rock sound the band would later help pioneer, ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ is a timeless record that has perhaps been unfairly overshadowed by the altogether less sophisticated ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’.
The reasons to love ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ are plentiful. There’s ‘Love Song’, a rip-roaring pastiche of love in a signature punk style; ‘I Just Can’t Be Happy Today’, a song that displayed a rare vulnerability (okay, not that vulnerable…) in the otherwise sneering and angry punk genre and also features Vanian at his crooning best and a truly fine keyboard solo. That’s right, a fine keyboard solo!
There’s also ‘Anti-Pope’, a delightfully brash pop at religion (key lyric: ‘I’ve got nothing against church, just the people who go there…’); ‘Melody Lee’, an infusion of gentle piano and raw punk energy; ‘Plan 9 Channel 7’, an epic ode to the doomed romance between Vampira and James Dean in the form of crooned vocals and air-guitar-inducing solos and the song that is arguably The Damned’s ‘masterpiece’ – ‘Smash It Up Parts 1 &2’.
‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ is a true classic of the punk genre yet often gets forgotten about behind the likes ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ and ‘London Calling’ (which, incidentally, The Clash recorded in the same studio at the same time as The Damned recorded ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’). That’s a shame, because this record arguably stands the test of time better than both of those records.
Show your love for ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ and The Damned with our The Damned t-shirt!