“Baby’s Got A Gun” by The Only Ones - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1980Album Chart of the Decade: 1980s

TJR says

“The Only Ones” (#56, 1978) and “Even Serpents Shine” (#42, 1979) hadn't exactly delivered the commercial success that was merited by the group's work and craved by CBS and, in an effort to improve the album's chances, respected engineer Colin Thurston was drafted in as producer, having proven himself with David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Magazine in recent times. Penetration's Pauline Murray also got the call-up in an effort to widen the appeal, although she only appeared on two tracks in the end; providing backing vocals on the rhythmic rocker “Me And My Shadow” and dueting with Peter Perrett on the folk-rocker “Fools”, which was released as the album's awkward lead single in May, billed as The Only Ones featuring Peter And Pauline. It's a cover of a Johnny Duncan country song from 8 years earlier. It's not terrible - but it's the worst thing on the record and seems 'orribly conceived, leaving fans and performers all out of their comfort zone I'd suggest. For sure, it failed to give the chart compilers any work to do. This is only a minor complaint however, as there's much to love throughout the set. In fact, for me, The Only Ones got better with each album, and there’s some real top-drawer action on-board here, most especially on side one which features “Why Don’t You Kill Yourself”, right up there for me as one of their greatest songs. It would have made for an obvious single choice were it not for the sheer vitriolic nature of the lyrics: “You called out from the gutter, I couldn't hear the words you muttered, Then you discovered hell and paid the full price, Angels sent to tempt you, Desire couldn't melt you, This ain't no missionary's speech, Just some friendly advice, Why don't you kill yourself? You ain't no use to no-one else”. Friendly advice he says!

Deadly Nightshade” is another classic of the bittersweet variety, a warning to beware of the temptress with dastardly intentions: “After dark you blossom out, You flower in the night, You smell of roses, But sometimes you tasted almost like, Deadly nightshade”. The Deadly nightshade is a plant which, in bygone times, was used as an aphrodisiac, and was used in eyedrops by women to dilate the pupils of the eyes to make them appear seductive. As Perrett's lyrics suggest, it was also known as the belladonna, derived from the Italian name for “beautiful woman”. The plant is highly toxic though - get the dosage wrong and and you'll face delirium, hallucinations or death! Continuing with the tales of the unexpected, “Strange Mouth” is, at surface level, an easy-going and catchy new wave beauty, but dig a little deeper and all innocence is lost: “Strange mouth, Waiting to consume your meat, Strange mouth, craving, Flesh as well as blood”. Frankly, I don't know whether to be aroused or terrified. This segues brilliantly into the terrific come-down low of “The Big Sleep”, a euphemism for death on which our man sings: “I don't ever wanna sleep again, Now that I've found love”. He knows, however, that this is not the kind of love he needs: “you taught me how to think cheap… there’s no such thing as glory… I don’t have the strength to break an empty shell”. The dreaded H demon lurks. “Baby's Got A Gun” did at least give them a Top 40 hit album (#37) but it was still below CBS expectations and the relationship would soon come to an end. All too gritty and grim for the record-buying public I suspect. Their loss.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [02:34] 6.9.png The Only Ones - The Happy Pilgrim (Peter Perrett) New Wave
A2 [02:44] 9.7.png The Only Ones - Why Don’t You Kill Yourself (Peter Perrett) New Wave
A3 [05:42] 6.6.png The Only Ones - Me And My Shadow (Peter Perrett) Rock
A4 [03:10] 9.1.png The Only Ones - Deadly Nightshade (Peter Perrett) New Wave
A5 [02:32] 8.8.png The Only Ones - Strange Mouth (Peter Perrett) New Wave
A6 [04:58] 7.8.png The Only Ones - The Big Sleep (Peter Perrett) Rock
B1 [03:10] 7.0.png The Only Ones - Oh Lucinda (Love Becomes A Habit) (Peter Perrett) New Wave
B2 [02:59] 6.0.png The Only Ones - Re-Union (Peter Perrett) Rock
B3 [03:05] 7.0.png The Only Ones - Trouble In The World (Peter Perrett) New Wave
B4 [01:50] 6.2.png The Only Ones - Castle Built On Sand (Peter Perrett) Pop
B5 [02:25] 5.8.png The Only Ones - Fools (Johnny Duncan) Folk Rock / Americana
B6 [03:53] 6.6.png The Only Ones - My Way Out Of Here (Alan Mair) Folk Rock / Americana

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