Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Noise, Noise, Noise...The Story of The Damned & Show # 267

The Damned came together through a pool of musicians that had all been in previous bands in some shape or form. Three of the band members that would be in the original line up of The Damned first played in a group that never played outside of band practices. Masters of the Backside featured Captain Sensible (Raymond Burns), Rat Scabies (Chris Millar), Dave Vanian (David Letts), and Chrissie Hynde. The band who was being managed by future Sex Pistols band manager Malcolm Mclaren, broke up due to management related issues. Chrissie Hynde would go on to form The Pretenders, while the remaining members added Brian James (Brian Robertson) to their ranks. James who was at the time returning to London after playing in a band called The Bastards, joined up briefly with a band that also never played live called London SS. He would leave the group which featured future members of The Clash (Mick Jones) and Generation X (Tony James) to join The Damned. Dave Vanian became the vocalist, Captain Sensible the bassist, Rat Scabies the drummer and Brian James, the guitarist. The name of the band has said to come from a variety of sources, one being the movie The Village of The Damned. The name was also the idea of lead singer Dave Vanian, who would often dress up in a vampiric style. The band played their first live show in 1976 at the 100 Club opening for Sex Pistols. The Damned were influenced by bands such as The Stooges, MC5, New York Dolls, Sex Pistols and others.

Signing to Stiff Records, The Damned recorded New Rose, it was released in late October of 1976. Produced by Nick Lowe, the energetic single was the very first single to be released by a UK Punk act. The B-Side of the single was a cover version of The Beatles song "Help!", played at an accelerated rate. The single sold so well that the initial first pressings of the single were sold out on mail orders alone. In 1977, The Damned released the first UK Punk album ever. Produced by Nick Lowe, the album was titled Damned Damned Damned, the album featured 12 songs (one of which was "New Rose"). The songs bled the spirit of fast paced Rock and Roll. Songs such as "Neat Neat Neat", "Fan Club", "I Fall", and "So Messed Up", all of which were written by guitarist Brian James are good examples of The Damned's style. The only songs that were not written primarily by James were "Stab Your Back" (written by Rat Scabies) and "I Feel Alright" (which was a cover of The Stooges song "1970"). The albums cover featured the band after having a pie fight. The cover is a good representation of the bands music displaying their sense of humour and love of reckless Rock and Roll abandonment. The back cover originally had a misprint on it. What was supposed to be a picture of The Damned playing live, was actually a picture of the band Eddie and the Hotrods. The overall album design is credited to Big Jobs Inc., but it is actually just an alternate name for Barney Bubbles. The album went to # 36 on the UK album charts.

The Damned then joined the infamous Anarchy Tour in the UK with the likes of Sex Pistols, The Clash, and Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers. The tour which is known for having more cancellations than shows played, did not feature The Damned for long. They would leave the tour and open for T.Rex's last tour. They also set another record for UK Punk by being the first UK Punk band to tour the USA, in turn influencing the beginning of US hardcore with their fast paced shows. When they returned from the USA, The Damned recorded two songs ("Stretcher Case" and "Sick of Being Sick") with legendary producer Shel Talmy. After more touring, The Damned added guitarist Lu Edmunds as a second guitarist and set out to record their second full length album. The album would not be produced by Nick Lowe (he was not available at that time to produce), instead it was produced by Nick Mason of Pink Floyd (originally the band had the intention of using Syd Barrett as producer). The album which is often frowned upon by critics, is actually a well written album which incorporates more intricate guitar parts and song structuring alongside the bands fast paced Punk sound. The album was meant to be different than its highly charged Punk predecessor, it was meant to be their Psychedelic album. It was released in November of 1977.

The issues surrounding the album also helped shape Music For Pleasure. Drummer Rat Scabies wanted to quit the band, but was convinced to stay for the recording, and the band went into the studio with hardly any new music ideas. Despite these issues, the album featured great songs such as "Problem Child", "Don't Cry Wolf", "You Take My Money", "Idiot Box, and "Your Eyes". The album once again contained a large majority of songs penned by Brian James, but it also featured a handful of songs written by and with the assistance of other band members. Music For Pleasure ends with the song "You Know", which features an ending saxophone solo. This ending is somewhat influenced by The Stooges, their album Funhouse ends in a similar fashion. Artwork for the album was done once again by Barney Bubbles, the cover featured versions of each band member in an almost abstract/cartoon form. Since the album also flopped commercially, Stiff Records dropped the band and they broke up.

After the members of the band went out to try other music projects, they decided to reunite. All of the members of The Damned returned with the exception of Brian James. Former bassist Captain Sensible would switch to guitar, and Algy Ward (former bassist in The Saints) became the groups new bassist. For a short period of time, Lemmy of Motorhead filled in on bass and even played some live shows, the band were called The Doomed briefly. When Ward came in, the second era of The Damned began. Signing to Chiswick Records, the band entered a studio to record their third full length album. In April 1979, The Damned released their first single in two years, it was titled "Love Song". The single did very well chart-wise going to #20 on the UK Singles charts. In September The Damned released the single "Smash It Up", the song was banned from BBC 1, due to its lyrical content. The bands full length album would be titled Machine Gun Etiquette. The album differed from The Damned's previous albums, incorporating elements of Garage Rock, Psychedelic, Punk and Pop into the music. The album featured the singles "Love Song", and "Smash It Up", and also other songs such as "Melody Lee", "Noise, Noise, Noise", "Liar" and "Looking At You" (which was a cover of a song originally done by MC5). Machine Gun Etiquette was also recorded at Wessex Studios in 1979, at the same time that The Clash were recording London Calling. As a result, Joe Strummer and Mick Jones of The Clash are featured vocally on the song "Machine Gun Etiquette", but are not credited. The album received good reviews, and went to #31 on the UK album charts.

In 1980, Algy Ward left the group (he would go on to form the band Tank). Paul Gray who had played bass with Eddie and The Hotrods joined as the groups new bass player. The Damned's next album would be a double album, it would also be titled The Black Album. Released in October of 1980, the album featured the band expanding their sound on the song "Curtain Call". The song was 17 minutes and took up the whole third side of the album, when it was released on vinyl. The song ventured into the Gothic music genre. The final side of the album featured four live songs. The album would reach #29 on the UK album charts, it would also be The Damned's last album released on the Chiswick record label. A four song Ep was released in 1981, titled Friday The 13th. It featured four songs (three originals and one cover song). In 1982, The Damned released the album titled Strawberries. It was during this time that Captain Sensible was also involved in a solo career. he would have a hit single in the UK with the song "Happy Talk". Around mid 1984/85, Sensible left the group. During the mid-eighties period, Dave Vanian took over as the core member of the group (he still remains as one of the only original members left with the group). The Damned continued until 1988 (amidst many line up changes), they then broke up yet again.

The Damned released an album in 1985 titled Not of This Earth, and are currently on Nitro Records, which is a label owned by Dexter Holland (of The Offspring). Grave Disorder was released in 2001 and So, Who's Paranoid? in 2008. The band's last album reflected more of a Pop influence, the current line up features Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible, amoung others. All of the Damned's albums up to their 1985 album Phantasmagoria, have been re-issued on CD with bonus tracks. A box set featuring all the recordings with guitarist Brian James was released in 2007 titled Play It At Your Sister. In addition to this a 30th anniversary edtion of Damned Damned Damned was released in april of 2007. This version of the album featured three CD's, which included B-Sides, demos and live recordings.

Next week is CJAM's pledge drive. This year's pledge drive is a little different than past pledge drives. This year will mark the transition from 91.5 FM to 99.1 FM. There are all sorts of incentives that will be available, so there is no reason not to support CJAM. Check cjam.ca for info and pictures of the incentives offered this year. If you would like to make a donnation please read the following information and click the link that follows:

CJAM's annual pledge drive will coincide the final week of broadcasting at 91.5FM and we will be bringing you some additional special programming and events commemorating over 25 years of FM on the frequency.

This year's drive will begin on Friday September 25 and conclude Monday October 5th. But you don't have to wait to donate! Pledge and donate online through CJAM's Website!

The Play List:

1. The D4 - What I Want
2. Lime Spiders - 25th Hour
3. The Misfits - Some Kinda Hate
4. Gentlemen of Horror - Rough Hike
5. The Spores - Shopping Binge
6. The Action - Down Town Boys
7. The Action - Success Without College
8. The Hellacopters - Ain't No Time
9. Wylde Rattz - TV Eye
10. Awesome Color - Ridin'
11. Pluto - Paste
12. Thrush Hermit - Radio Blaster
13. Barracudas - I Can't Pretend
14. Jerry Nolan - Pretty Baby
15. King Khan & BBQ Show - Waddlin' Around
16. The Forty-Fives - Shake
17. The Gun Club - Preachin' The Blues
18. Nervous Shakes - Be A Man
19. Television - Fire Engine (1975 Demo)
20. Sloan - I've Gotta Try
21. Johnny Thunders - Leave Me Alone
22. The Damned - New Rose
23. The Damned - One Way Love
24. Luger Boa - Only A Moment Away

To download this week's show visit the CJAM archives and select the files 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM on September 22nd, 2009.

Damned Videos:

New Rose (1976 Promo Video)
Neat Neat Neat (Live 1977)
Problem Child (Live 1977)
Fan Club (Live 1978)
Love Song (TOTP 1979)
Smash It Up (1979 Promo Video)


The Wolfmen said...

Did you know Sid Vicous was almost frontman for The Damned - Brian James and Rat invited both Sid and Dave Vanian to audition for the band. Sid never turned up, and the gig went to Dave.

Apparently this is why Sid threw a glass at the band during The Damned's set at the 100 club Punk Festival.

Dave said...

I did not know the exact details. I remember reading that he was supposed to try out for the band, but didn't show. It's very interesting how everything was so interconnected.

Thanks for the comment/visiting my blog.

The Wolfmen said...

The Albums not out yet - but we'll send you some promo bits and bobs - be great if you could spin anything up Dave