Damaged Goods (song)

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"Damaged Goods"
Gang of Four - Damaged Goods.jpeg
Single by Gang of Four
B-side "Armalite Rifle"
"Love Like Anthrax"
Released 13 october 1978[1]
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded Cargo Studios, Rochdale, England
Genre Post-punk
Length 9:55
Label Fast Product
Songwriter(s) Gang of Four
Producer(s) Fast Product, Gang of Four
Gang of Four singles chronology
"Damaged Goods"
(1978)
"At Home He's a Tourist"
(1979)
"Damaged Goods"
(1978)
"At Home He's a Tourist"
(1979)

"Damaged Goods" is the debut single by Gang of Four. It was released on 13 October 1978 through independent record label Fast Product. Produced by Fast Product owner Bob Last under the alias Fast Product, the single received critical acclaim, prompting the band to sign to EMI Records, the title track and "Love Like Anthrax" were re-recorded for Gang of Four's debut album Entertainment! in 1979 and the whole EP was included in the Fast Product compilation Mutant Pop in 1980.[2][3]

Music and lyrics[edit]

The title track starts with syncopated bass and drums, which are later accompanied with a guitar, the song also features vocals by Jon King, which take the role of "a lonesome, longing lament" and a "nearly spoken-word" section sung by the band's guitarist Andy Gill.[4] Allmusic critic Tom Maginnis argued that the track is "the closest thing approaching a traditional pop single from their influential first record," while noting the "uncharacteristic lightness and bounce from Dave Allen's superb, hooky bass line, countered with a constant hacking rhythm guitar from Andy Gill." He also described the end result as "almost danceable, skewed only by singer Jon King's indignant rant."[5] NME also stated that the track "boasts a riff that could slice through a particularly strong girder, the coldest funk this side of Prince & The Refrigeration."[6]

Lyrically, the song is about "sexual politics," with "a sexual/political double entendre providing the crux of the song's message."[5] Kevin J.H. Dettmar, the author of Gang of Four's Entertainment!, argued that "the song's protagonist shows no self-awareness."[4] In a 2009 interview with Clash magazine, singer and lyricist Jon King stated that he was inspired by an "in-store slogan" in a Morrisons supermarket in Leeds," using it as "a good starter for words about a doomed relationship where legover had become, maybe, too much of a good thing."[7] Magginis also noted that the lyrics "could summarize the collective attitude of the post-punk era, bidding adieu to the more optimistic music of the '60s and self-absorbed '70s with a singalong chorus."[5]

Artwork[edit]

The single cover art attributes influences to Situationism and Deconstructionism, it features the bold black sans-serif title over a deep pink background, similar to the design of 1914's short-lived Blast magazine. The self-referencing text, "the sleeve for a Gang of Four recording of 'Damaged Goods,' 'Love Like Anthrax' and 'Armalite Rifle' is scrolled around the title,[8] the back cover features a tear-out from a newspaper of a female matador spearing a bull and an extract from the band's letter to Bob Last on how they wanted the single sleeve to be. The letter demanded Last to also include a word-for-word transcription of a conversation the band had with a stripper and a comedian as a caption to the newspaper tear-out.[2] Last ignored the band's demands and designed the different sleeve, which included both the tear-out and an excerpt from the letter.[9]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Upon its release, "Damaged Goods" received critical acclaim and became an indie hit,[7] which led Gang of Four into signing to EMI,[10] the song's fusion of punk rock and funk was influential in the development of post-punk movement[not in citation given] and inspired future groups such as Fugazi and Rage Against the Machine. Tom Maginnis of Allmusic regarded the song as "a masterful blend of sexual politics with propelling, melodious post-punk angst."[5] On its influence, Maginnis wrote: "Damaged Goods" would prove to be the musical flashpoint of an era, which -- along with contemporaries such as the Fall, the Au Pairs, and the Clash -- would forge a new radical political agenda in rock & roll.[5] Simon Reynolds, the author of Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984, stated that the band "found a totally new way of negotiating that thorny danger zone known as 'politics-in-rock.'" Reynolds also further commented: "Abrasive but accessible, Gang of Four avoided both Tom Robinson-style preachy protest and forbidding didacticism of avant-gardists like Henry Cow. Radical form, radical content; yet you could dance to it."[9] Music journalist Paul Lester considered it as "arguably the first post-punk record."[2]

NME listed it as number 46 on the list, "100 Best Tracks of the Seventies."[6]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Gang of Four.

No. Title Length
1. "Damaged Goods" 3:34
2. "Armalite Rifle" 3:18
3. "Love Like Anthrax" 3:03
Total length: 9:55

Personnel[edit]

Gang of Four
Technical personnel
  • John Brierley – engineering
  • Bob Last (credited as Fast Product) – production
  • Gang of Four – production

Cover versions[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.45cat.com/record/fast5
  2. ^ a b c Lester (2009)
  3. ^ Fricke, David (7 August 1980). "Gang of Four: Entertainment". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 24 February 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Dettmar (2014), p. 125
  5. ^ a b c d e Maginnis, Tom. "Gang of Four - Damaged Goods (song review)". Allmusic. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "100 Best Tracks of the Seventies: Gang of Four - 'Damaged Goods'". NME. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Murray, Robin (10 September 2009). "Gang Of Four Track By Track". Clash. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  8. ^ Dettmar (2014), p. 17
  9. ^ a b Reynolds (2009)
  10. ^ The Mojo Collection: 4th Edition. 428: Mojo. 2007. ISBN 184767643X. 
  11. ^ "The Hot Rats - Damaged Goods". Clash. 18 January 2010. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  12. ^ ""Anthrax" (Gang of Four cover)". Pitchfork. 10 September 2009. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]