Gang of Four’s Track ‘Armalite Rifle’ – The IRA’s Favourite Weapon.
Above Photo: Present Arms – or Armalites.
During the 1970s-early 1980s period which Bombed Out! covers, there was a considerable amount of IRA activity in Northern Ireland, Ireland and on mainland Britain, which included shootings, bombings and assassinations. I refer to much of it in the yearly news paragraphs in the book, as these killings and bombings provided another grim backdrop to the course of events described in the book.
Other than Stiff Little Fingers, not many Punk and New Wave bands wrote about what were so euphemistically called ‘the Troubles” back then, but one exception to that was a band called Gang of Four, who wrote a song called Armalite Rifle.
I listened to the Gang of Four’s single, Armalite Rifle recently, and did some research on why, out of all the weapons in the world, the IRA was so linked to the use of Armalite rifles (AR-18s) back then.
Apparently, it was mainly because they had a folding stock, so they were easy to conceal, and they could be reassembled quickly. Also, with little maintenance, they were extremely reliable and accurate when fired, having been stored in out-of-the-way places.
All of which no doubt fed into the writing of the lyrics for the song.
I saw Gang of Four at Eric’s a couple of times in 1979, and I think we supported them at least once, in the Factory Club in Manchester, when I was in Pink Military. They always played a very tight, powerful set, and Armalite Rifle remains, to my mind, one of the greatest Punk/New Wave songs ever produced.
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I’ve also added a You Tube link below to Damaged Goods, yet another superb Gang of Four song. I love the bass-playing on both tracks.