Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Gang Of Four
Damaged Goods EP


Released 1978 on Fast
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 03/04/2002ce


When I first heard this record in the late 70's I must admit I wasn't really prepared for it. I found it quite harsh at the time, yet once I played it a few times it really turned my head around (I had this same experience with my first encounter with Joy Division.)
Living in America in the 70's it was impossible to hear groups such as Gang Of Four on the radio, so one had to trust the writers at Melody Maker or NME and simply take the plunge and buy records by groups you never heard. I would always buy a 45 first by a new group as they only costs 2 dollars then.
This EP was Gang Of Four's first recording and the first thing I ever heard by them. Just recently a British magazine did a feature on the top 100 45's from the punk era and this record was high on the list. So I went into my basement and pulled out tons of old punk 45's to give them a fresh listening. After playing the "Damaged Goods" EP I was blown away by it's sheer brute force and originality. It's like I never heard the record before and it absolutely tore my head off.
Gang Of Four had a truly unique sound which featured Andy Gill's shattered glass guitar phrases and Dave Allen's thick as syrup thud bass lines. "Damaged Goods" the title track has a razor sharp punk/punk edge that is truly brought to life by the pulverizing rhythm section. Lead singer Jon King also shines with his out of control speed freak vocals (which may have influenced Mark Stewart of The Pop Group.)
"Love Like Anthrax" is a nightmarish, feedback laden brainbuster with robotic chant-like vocals. Dave Allen's hypnotic bass groove is way up front in the mix and Gill's guitar just covers the thing with his air raid style guitar mayhem.
"Armalite Rifle" (sung by Gill) is the best track on the record. This one is even a bit "poppy" kinda like The Jam when they were really on purpose. Gill plays some furious guitar blasts that are simply awesome to behold.
All 3 tracks on the record were re-recorded for future records however the new versions wouldn't come close to those on this EP.
I'm not sure if this record has been re-issued in any form but originals can usually be found pretty cheaply. This is easily one of UK punk's finest moments. Sadly Gang Of Four would later turn into a rather lame New York based dance outfit (what a fuckin' drag!!!!)


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