The Damned’s Smash It Up: “It’s about frothy lager… hardly a call to revolution”

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SCABIES: If anything, it was about the frustration of youth. We wanted to get rid of what was around and smashing it up is one way to go about it. The hippy thing hadn’t gone away. Punk wasn’t popular. People think everything changed when the first record came out, but we were still a minority.

ARMSTRONG:  There was a story in a tabloid about how some punks had disrupted a middle-class suburban dinner party by singing “Smash It Up” while they wrecked the place. The BBC said forget it, they wouldn’t play it. It was a Top 10 record if it’d had radio play. It’s not even that controversial, it’s about frothy lager and blow-wave hairstyles. It’s hardly a call to revolution. Nobody was going to man the barricades on the back of that.

SENSIBLE: The middle eight was probably inspired by “I Feel Much Better”, the B-side of “Tin Soldier”, my favourite Small Faces single. I love the end of “I Feel Much Better” and you can actually sing the “frothy lager” bit over it to a certain extent. Lager was introduced just as I started frequenting pubs. We thought it was a joke and would never catch on. I blame Ralph for the “Glastonbury hippies” line. The song’s actually saying bollocks to everyone, not only hippies.


SCABIES: The BBC didn’t actually ban it, they were too smart for that. They knew that if they banned it we’d have sold a lot more. So they just didn’t play it.

ARMSTRONG: They band did play it on The Old Grey Whistle Test along with “I Just Can’t Be Happy Today”. The organ broke down and they really did smash it up, wrecking their equipment. Dave had suffered a bout of nerves so had self-medicated with whisky. If you look closely, the mic is gaffertaped to Dave’s hand.

WARD: Nah, we were just having fun. Then me and Scabies had words, more than words, there were a few broken noses, doing the “Smash It Up” video, and after that I lost interest. I enjoyed it up to then, it was good work, playing most days of the week, being famous, ha ha.

ARMSTRONG: They were the musicians of punk rock, streets ahead of the others, Captain and Rat especially. Punk rock had a ‘playing is for ponces’ attitude but musicians really got The Damned. That is the reason they are still around today. That, and the fact nobody died.


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