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Sunday 12 February 2017

Damned Damned Damned: First British Punk Album Gets A 40th Anniversary Deluxe Reboot

Cartoon punks or just plain loveable rogues with an ear for a melody and a patent acquired on goodtime punk "n' roll?
Image (c) John Ingham 1977

Who knows. Who cares. The Damned just are undisputedly a goodtime rabble of seasoned musicians who set the controls to party every time they drop in on our neighbourhood.

It's forty years since Captain Sensible and his crew (though at the time it was Brian James who steered the most pirate of pirate ships) unleashed the very first punk song onto an unsuspecting youth.

New Rose was fast, fun, loud and proud. Long winded and stadium bound it wasn't. There was a new gang in town, and the soon to follow album Damned Damned Damned acted as a manifesto for the disillusioned and downtrodden.

The writing on the wall now read "'anyone can put together a band and get their voices heard." 

Talking today of the album"s recording, Captain Sensible reflects: 

""Damned Damned Damned" was almost "un-produced" by our Stiff stablemate Nick Lowe, who managed to capture the energy of our live set spectacularly. 

"Nick was known as "Basher" as there was no messing about. It"s fairly manic, but also tuneful and, listened to now, still sounds pretty fresh to my ears…. The guitars don"t sound nice – they"re a raw, fuzzed-out thrash – that"s punk rock.  

"Pathway was a rough and ready studio round the back of an Islington garage. It was so dark and dingy in there – you had to be careful or you"d knock your beer over. 

"The sessions took two days, after which the tape was recycled for an Elvis Costello album so there"s no chance of a remix… Not that you"d want one – it"s perfect!"

Now, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the band"s breakthrough comes a n Art Of The Album deluxe edition of that incredible debut album, Damned Damned Damned,"on 17th February 2017, almost exactly 40 years to the day since its original issue.

Formed in 1976, The Damned really need no introduction… As well as releasing the first ever British punk single & album, they also broke further new ground as the first UK punk act to tour America. 

The Damned still receive their dues in the US where they are often cited as a major influence on many future rock acts, including bastions of the nascent US hardcore scenesuch as Black Flag and Bad Brains plus heavy metal heavyweights such as Green Day, The Offspring and Guns "N" Roses (the LA rockers acknowledged the debt when they covered "New Rose" on their 1993 album "The Spaghetti Incident").

In the recording studio (Pathway Studios) alongside producer Nick Lowe in late 1976, the band – David Vanian (vocals), Captain Sensible (bass), Brian James (guitar) and Rat Scabies (drums) - produced an alchemic, heady new British rock sound; a menacing mix of tough New York punk rock and Detroit sleaze - the album ends with a cover of The Stooges" "1970," here renamed  I Feel Alright. 

These predominantly American influences were mixed with a subtle flourish of late-60s British psychedelia and a dash of gothic Hammer Horror for good measure, already pointing to acclaimed future directions for the band. 

The album was neatly spearheaded by a brace of classic punk singles in the aforementioned  New Rose and the blistering follow-up Neat Neat Neat

As the album's sleeve famously (and correctly) states, this is music; "Made to be played loud at low volume"!

The new Art of The Album series, featuring fully remastered audio & new sleevenotes within both the CD & LP formats recalling the story of the band's conception and the album"s creation. 

Researched and written by legendary punk writer John Ingham, these new sleevenotes cover in-depth the story of the album & the period in which it was written & recorded, the key players in its creation, the craft and instrumentation, the impact upon release and its legacy 40 years later. 

Via exclusive interviews with original band members Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible, Brian James and Rat Scabies, John Ingham (best known for writing the first ever review of The Damned and the first ever interview with The Sex Pistols - both in music weekly "Sounds" in 1976) is perfectly placed to recount the early hedonistic days of the band in this definitive release of one of the most influential albums of all time.

In the age of immediacy, accessibility, streaming and a la carte downloads, the concept of an album or long player has become somewhat lost. 

The Damned are about to embark on an extensive world tour, returning to play a series of big outdoor UK festival shows over the summer - these live dates capped an incredible year for the newly-invigorated band which also saw them deliver an acclaimed two-hour set at the Brighton Dome.

Always unforgettable, The Damned continue to wave the flag for originality, stick two fingers up to mediocrity and celebrate a DIY punk ethos in the face of plastic entertainment and scripted reality. 

Original members David Vanian and Captain Sensible never expected to still be doing it forty years later, but, as their loyal following will attest, they are still an incredible live band who sound as fresh and exciting as they did way back in 1976.

The Art Of The Album deluxe edition of The Damned's debut album, "Damned Damned Damned," is released on 17th February 2017. CLICK HERE for more info.

by: Mike Cobley


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