CD/LP/DL – BMG out February 17th
An adrenalin-fuelled distillation of the true spirit of the period
To coincide with the 40th Anniversary of the release of the first album by a British Punk band, BMG are releasing a re-mastered version of the classic debut by the definitive punk band. Rest assured, any work that has been done at the mixing desk does nothing to detract from the explosive power of the original record.
If faith can move mountains, then music can certainly stir your soul. Damned Damned Damned however, takes a vice-like grip of you and shakes your very being like a turbo-charged roller coaster ride.
So much has been written about the Punk era over the last 12 months but if you wanted one album to capture the essential sound and vibrant energy of that heady time, you really need to look no further. This is an adrenalin-fuelled distillation of the true spirit of the period; The Damned’s set captured on vinyl for posterity. These were the songs they had been playing for the seven months prior to its release, during a time where music actually was the main point of what was happening rather than fashion or politics.
Damned Damned Damned is all over inside thirty-two minutes; a barricade-storming, all-out attack driven by the incendiary drumming of Rat Scabies and the riff-magician and song-writer Brian James. Influenced by a combination of Blues music and the more recent sound of The Pink Fairies, MC5 and The Stooges, James certainly captured the zeitgeist of the time with this collection of full-pelt, rock and roll classics. If we trace a line from The Ramones to British Punk, then no band delivered an album that was closer in tempo to them. However, the treasure trove of James guitar breaks on the album lends it a distinctive and vital sound. Sensible’s driving bass, arguably more complex than the mix ever revealed sits perfectly with the drums to provide the perfect platform for the guitar pyrotechnics and vocals of the essential showman, Dave Vanian.
The album was recorded in Pathway Studios which, as Sensible says “looked like the back room of a garage, which it was”. Recorded in a matter of days with Nick Lowe fulfilling production duties, it is still nothing short of a force of nature as anyone who has seen it performed live on The Damned’s recent tour would agree.
Whilst the energy and characteristic anarchic spirit permeate the whole recording, it’s important to remember that this is actually a collection of superb songs, penned by Brian James, in the true spirit of the influences that drove him. Classics abound, in the shape of Singles New Rose and Neat Neat Neat, but also in every riff-soaked moment beyond them.
I Fall, the track that Captain wanted as a single in 1976, and still believes would have been a better choice than New Rose today, is followed by the frantic urgency of Born to Kill. When you listen to Fan Club, So Messed Up and See Her Tonite, you realise that James clearly had tunes to burn and was fully ‘in the zone’. Feel the Pain is possibly a macabre foretaste of Gothic times to come and the album rounds off, appropriately enough due to the power of their influence on the early Damned, with a thrashing climax of The Stooges classic I Feel Alright.
Damned Damned Damned is one of those landmark albums that signpost our route through the development of modern music but also retains the timeless energy and power of the vital Punk era.
Maybe it’s best to give the final words on the album to Dave Vanian who recently told me that it captures the sound of “the time before a label was tied to it (Punk) and we were just a bunch of young kids playing the best music we could in the only way we knew how”.
To celebrate the release of this special edition of Damned Damned Damned, BMG have shared a recording of Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible interviewed by Classic Album Sundays at The British Library. During the interview they discuss in detail the recording of the album and you can watch it below.
Damned Damned Damned 4Oth Anniversary Deluxe Edition is released as CD/LP and D/L on BMG, February 17th, 2017
All words by Dave Jennings.
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The two photographs from The Hope and Anchor 1977 are copyright John Ingham.