I’m fully aware things have gotten extra ‘gazey around here lately – and I make no apologies for it – but just to take a little break from all the reverb and atmosphere, here’s something as dry and cutting as you can possibly find. Just as a palate cleanser.
“Damaged Goods” was Gang Of Four’s first single, released in October 1978, and the version that appeared on that Fast Product 7″ got them signed to EMI and was re-recorded in the version most know, from their classic 1979 debut Entertainment!.
Singer Jon King had this to say about writing the song to Clash in 2009, as well as why they were so quick to sign with a major label and re-record it:
Saturday afternoons, we wandered, walleyed, through the sun-bright aisles of Morrison’s supermarket in Leeds, looking for a 2-4-1 bargains and generic baked beans. The hopeless in-store slogan at the point of sale was: “The change will do you good” meaning “change” as in money and “change” as in switch store. Someone got paid for this rubbish!. I found this good starter for words about a doomed relationship where legover had become, maybe, too much of a good thing. Or at any rate, a thing. Andy punctuates the main lyric with a call and response thing and sings the iconic mid section “Damaged goods, send them back” words. The music’s cute: alternate the guitar and bass duh duh dink! Duh duh dink! & build the song around this R&B clatter among dynamic drop outs where everyone got to feature. We didn’t want a pop structure. We’d had it with dominant, subdominant, tonic chord progressions. So we had none, instead. The song was on our debut Fast Product EP, which became a big indie hit . But we weren’t paid a cent for our work, majorly ripped off, so we re-recorded it for ‘Entertainment!’ I regret not punching out the bloke who ran the label. (Note to self: do this before you die) We’re often asked “why did you sign to a major label if you’re so alternative?” One answer: EMI at least paid us for the records it sold.Jon King, Gang Of Four
Gang Of Four Track By Track @ Clash
And if you want to learn to play it – playing Gang Of Four can be just as cathartic as listening to it – you can start with this lesson: