Saturday, June 6, 2009

D - The Damned - "Damned Damned Damned"

After yesterday’s disappointing and somewhat grimy record by “C” Company, and not having reviewed a slam dunk great record yet, I cautiously, & with a reasonable degree of trepidation, pulled out the first “D” record and found….this.

Words cannot describe my joy at seeing this LP.

I mean, look at the LP cover. Just look at it, I’ll wait….

Q: am I crazy or is not the greatest album cover of all time?
A: No, I'm not crazy (INSTITUTIONALIZED!) because it is. Even better than Kiss’ “Dressed to Kill”. I think it’s the pink rimmed sunglasses that put it over the top (“I put my hat on backwards and feel like a truck”) (hey Gypsy! – isn’t he wearing Sid’s chain? Maybe you should be trying to dig up Captain Sensible. Except he’s not dead - I think he’s running for Parliament. AND he’s on Facebook.).

Then there’s the name of the record: look at it again. Go ahead, I’ll wait…


I’d guess that at least some of you are familiar with this band - for those who aren’t, a quick primer: this is considered the first official “punk” LP to be released in the UK, beating out the Sex Pistols, which had already begun to fall apart, by several months. Made up of guitarist, songwriter, & James Williamson (Iggy’s guitarist) wannabe Brian James, drummer & Keith Moon wannabe Rat Scabies, vocalist & Dracula wannabe Dave Vanian, and tutu-wearing bassist Captain Sensible, who no one wantedtobe, the Damned manifesto was to be as irreverent as possible, especially in regards to the established social & political UK punk creeds. Because of this, they were regarded as a joke by the formal punk establishment, but if I could go back to London in ’77, this is the band I would choose to see, because they at least seemed the most ENTERTAINING. And isn’t that what music is supposed to be??? Personally, I’m not looking for enlightenment in rock and roll – I would much rather jump up and down.

Now this, their debut, isn’t even the Damned’s best record: the band gets by more on speed and enthusiasm then talent (especially Vanian’s vocals – the weakest link), there’s a little too much filler (“1 of the 2”, “Stab Your Back”, “So Messed Up”), a just alright cover of the Stooges’ “I Feel Alright” and one outright crap tune (the lame Alice Cooper ripoff “Feel the Pain”) But there’s plenty of classics, and they ARE classics. Allow me to list a few titles:
· Neat Neat Neat
· Fan Club
· I Fall
· Born to Kill
· New Rose
· Fish
· See Her Tonite
You weren’t able to see, but as I was typing this list, I WAS JUMPING UP AND DOWN!

One of the coolest things about the Damned is that after their second album, Brian James, who wrote 10 of the 12 songs on this record, left for greener (& less cake covered) pastures (eventually ending up with Stiv Bators in the awful Lords of the New Church), leaving his guitar & songwriting mantle to Senor Sensible, which resulted in the stone classic “Machine Gun Etiquette” (spoiler alert! I have this LP too, and I’m going to praise it to the skies).

Verdict: on second thought, words CAN describe my joy: “Thank God for the Damned.”

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