It can be difficult to find relevant albums week by week, so when I found out this album recently celebrated it’s 35th anniversary I jumped at the opportunity to review it. The Damned were a London based punk group most prominent in the punk boom of the late 70s. Led by the charismatic Dave Vanian (like Transylvanian), Damned Damned Damned was everything you could want in a lively and to-the-point punk debut. The songs here are energetic, enthusiastic, and even at times somewhat humorous. I mean what can you expect when a band has members with names like “Captain Sensible” and “Rat Scabies”. Produced by pop musician/frequent Elvis Costello producer Nick Lowe and released in that golden year of 1977, Damned Damned Damned is a must listen for any old school punk fan.
What separates The Damned from other punk groups of the time? That’s a good question and I’m not sure I know the answer. The closest thing they remind me of is The Stooges, if they were goofier and from England. They even cover The Stooges’ song “1970” under it’s original name “I Feel Alright”. Of course Dave Vanian is no Iggy Pop but he certainly has his own appeal. Vanian was well known for donning gothic vampire-like garb on stage that somehow only enhanced his crooner-like singing style. Alongside Bassist (later guitarist) Captain Sensible, known for his trademark red beret, The Damned were quite a spectacle on stage and still are as they continue to play live.
If you really want to label The Damned I suppose you could call them one of the originators of “Gothic Punk” if you want to get that specific with genres. Personally I just enjoy the songs and the energy behind them. Guitarist Brian James wrote the bulk of the material on the album and brings an edge by incorporating more traditional rock riffs but played at quick punk tempos. “Neat Neat Neat” and “New Rose” are both punk classics in their own right and pretty much speak for themselves. There’s also a video on YouTube of The Damned playing on The Craig Ferguson Show of all places from 2008 and I’m glad to say they sound just as good if not better then they ever have. How do these guys still do it? I don’t know, maybe they sold their souls.
Favorite Tracks: “Fan Club”, “Neat Neat Neat”, “New Rose”