Album #451 – Machine Gun Etiquette

Album #451

The Damned were the first commercially viable punk band in the UK, releasing a single and LP before any other punk band. For their third album, Machine Gun Etiquette, their sound changed drastically. The roots of this band are still present but, Machine Gun Etiquette would find the group becoming more experimental, a far cry from the Gothic Rock sounds they would embody in the mid-80’s. There is also a British influence present on this album at a time when more of their contemporaries were looking to the West for inspiration. Lead singer Dave Vanian sings with such conviction and gusto, a quality he shares with many of his peers. But, the heart of this band lies in the other members. Bassist Captain Sensible would go on to have an even bigger solo career in the UK before re-joining the group. Drummer Rat Scabies is one of the best I’ve ever heard. His drumming represents the aggression that many associated with the genre. The sounds on Machine Gun Etiquette would inspire many in the next decade and beyond. I can hear shades of Sonic Youth’s sound from this album along with many other noise rock bands. But, sadly, The Damned are another band who would never see much success in North America. Maybe that’s because they refused to change their identity. If only more musicians did the same, music might be different today. Highlights include: Love Song, I Just Can’t Be Happy Today, Melody Lee, Anti-Pope, Plan 9 Channel 7, Noise, Noise, Noise, Looking at You (a great MC5 cover), Liar and Smash It Up (Parts 1 and 2). Overall, I give Machine Gun Etiquette, 4 out of 5.

Next: The Pleasure Principle by Gary Numan

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