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Possibly my favourite song from the anti-almost-bloody-everything Leeds lads Gang Of Four. The target of choice (really, no pun intended!) this time is the United States' gun manufacturers ArmaLite, makers of automatic weapons for the military, and for any Joe Sixpack in the U.S. who decides he needs an assault rifle for hunting game, home defence, and ringing in the new year. This time though, the focus is on terrorism and counter-terrorism in Northern Ireland

Musically, the song is reasonably different from most of the 'Four's stuff; there is a distinct absence of the sharp stabs of guitar that typify most of their tunes. The spoken parts are reminiscent of Anthrax (Their song, not the lame band), but the Armalite Rifle in the chorus and the Damage lines at the end are sung with a wonderful harmony of back up singers. The guitar has an enjoyable ringing quality, and the whole song is amazingly upbeat, given it's reasonably depressing lyrics. The drums are quite a treat, starting with a military march and then relaxing into a half-open hi-hat splash beat which fits in excellentely with the structured bassline and they both provide a perfect counterpoint to the guitar.

The song was originally released as the B side to Damaged Goods, which was released in 1978 and can be found on the Fast label compilation Mutant Pop from 1980. A different, more refined version of the song made an appearance on the Yellow EP of '79, and is probably the easiest version to find. Your best bet to get a hold of it is to get the Entertainment! re-issue (which includes the Yellow EP), or the Gang of Four compilation 100 Flowers Bloom. As to which version's better, it's hard to say. The music is better and the song is performed faster on the later Yellow version, but the singing is superior on the early version and the performance flows more cohesively, even if some of the lyrics are a bit harder to understand. I think I prefer the early version more.

ARMALITE RIFLE


Armalite Rifle
Police and IRA(1)
Armalite Rifle
They use it every day

Breaks down easy
Fits in a pram
A child could carry it
Do it no harm
Armalite Rifle
And the holy trinity
Used against you
Like Irish jokes on the BBC

Armalite Rifle
Police and IRA*
Armalite Rifle
They use it every day

Rifle does harm
Shoots for miles
If it gets you in the arm**
Destroy your insides

Armalite Rifle
Police and IRA*
Armalite Rifle
Used every day

(One chord solo, followed by a one note solo)***

It'll do you damage
It'll do you harm
It'll blow your head off
It'll blow your guts out****
I disapprove of it
And so does Jon(2)*****
It'll do you damage
It'll do you damage
Damage
Damage
Damage
Damage

Damage


* In the Yellow version 'IRA' is changed to 'UDA' (Ulster Defence Association).
** In the Yellow version, 'If it gets' is changed to 'If a bullet gets'.
*** Solos are different in the Yellow version.
**** Yellow version is 'blow your legs off'.
***** In the Yellow version 'Jon' is changed to 'Dave' (Dave Allen, the bassist for the band).

(1): Irish Republican Army (vicious bunch or terrorists. Mind you, the English have no business being there)
(2): Jon King is the vocalist in Gang of Four, so it's kind of odd that he mentions himself like that.



This song is hardly mentioned on the internet, let alone having the lyrics up anywhere, so I had to transcribe it myself. If you think something's wrong, /msg me.

I don't want to sound too anti-guns, but nobody bar the army needs a fucking machine gun.

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