Friday, June 19, 2009

Song of the Day - The Damned 6/19/09

The Damned - "Alone Again Or"
#13 on My Player

The Damned are an English punk band formed in London in 1976.[4][1] They are notable for being the first punk rock band from England to release a single ("New Rose"), an album (Damned Damned Damned), and to tour the United States. The Damned later evolved into one of the forerunners of the gothic genre.[2]
They have incorporated numerous styles into their music and image, including: garage rock, psychedelic rock, cabaret, and the theatrical rock of Screaming Lord Sutch and Alex Harvey. Lead singer Dave Vanian's vocal style has been described as similar to a crooner.[5] The Damned have dissolved and reformed many times, with Vanian as the sole constant member. However, the lineups have always included either guitarist Captain Sensible and/or drummer Rat Scabies, who are both founding members. The current line-up includes Vanian, Captain Sensible, Monty Oxy Moron, Pinch and Stu West.
Dave Vanian (David Lett), Captain Sensible (Raymond Burns) and Rat Scabies (Chris Millar) had been members of the band Masters of the Backside, which also included future Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde. Brian James (Brian Robertson) had been a member of the punk band London SS, who never played live but included musicians who later found fame in The Clash and Generation X. Scabies knew James through a failed audition as drummer for London SS. When the two decided to start their own band, James and Scabies had invited Sid Vicious and Dave Vanian to audition to be the singer of The Damned. Only Vanian showed up, and so he became the frontman of the band.
The Damned played their first gig on 26 July 1976, supporting the Sex Pistols at the 100 Club. Organized by Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, the gig was a two-day event billed as the "100 Club Punk Festival" and also included such early punk rock bands as The Clash, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Subway Sect, Buzzcocks, Chris Spedding & The Vibrators and the French band Stinky Toys.
They were the first of the London punk bands to release a single on the
independent record label Stiff Records. That single, "New Rose", was described by critic Ned Raggett as a "deathless anthem of nuclear-strength romantic angst".[7] Vanian's deadpan intro — "Is she really going out with him?" — was borrowed from The Shangri-Las' 1964 "Leader of the Pack". The B-side of "New Rose" was a faster version of The Beatles' "Help!". Their first album, Damned Damned Damned, was the first album released by a British punk band, and it included several minor hits.
In 1977, The Damned became the first British punk band to tour the United States. According to Brendan Mullen, founder of the Los Angeles club
The Masque, the Damned's first tour of the U.S. found them favouring very fast tempos, helping to inspire the first wave of U.S. west coast hardcore punk.[8]
In March 1977, The Damned opened for T.Rex on their final tour. The Damned then recruited a second guitarist, Lu Edmunds. This expanded line-up unsuccessfully tried to recruit the reclusive Syd Barrett to produce their second album Music For Pleasure. They settled for Barrett's Pink Floyd bandmate, Nick Mason, who they reported was generally uninterested in the task. Music for Pleasure flopped critically and commercially and the band broke up, ending their relationship with Stiff Records.
The former members of the band worked on a series of brief side projects and solo recordings, all making little commercial impact. The Damned soon tentatively reformed, but without Brian James, who had been the group's main songwriter. Originally they performed as The Dimmed and The Doomed to avoid potential trademark problems. Captain Sensible switched to guitar and
keyboards, and after a brief period with Lemmy of Hawkwind and Motörhead on bass for studio demos and a handful of live appearances[9], the bassist position was filled by Algy Ward, formerly of The Saints. The band signed a deal with Chiswick Records, and went back to the studio to record another album.
Vanian's vocals had by now expanded from the high-
baritone barks of the early records to a smooth, proto-Gothic crooning style. The Damned had established a dark, melodic style that was sometimes fast and loud, and at other times relaxed with dominant keyboards.
The Damned released a series of singles leading up to 1979's
Machine Gun Etiquette, and later a version of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit", with a new Damned song, "Rabid", on the B-side.
Machine Gun Etiquette featured a strong 1960s
garage rock influence, with Farfisa organ in several songs. Recording at Wessex Studios at the same time as The Clash were there to record London Calling, Joe Strummer and Mick Jones made an uncredited vocal appearance on the title track. Fans and critics were pleasantly surprised, and Machine Gun Etiquette received largely positive reviews; Ira Robbins and Jay Pattyn described it as "A great record by a band many had already counted out".
Ward left the group in 1980, to be replaced by Paul Gray, formerly of Eddie and the Hot Rods. The Black Album was released later that year, the double album's centerpiece being the theatrical 17-minute "Curtain Call". It would be their last album for Chiswick.
In 1981, The Damned released Friday the 13th, a four song E.P. on NEMS.
In 1982, The Damned released their only album for
Bronze Records, Strawberries, featuring new full-time keyboardist Roman Jugg. At this time, Sensible was splitting his time between The Damned and his own solo career, which had seen early success in the UK with the surprise number one hit "Happy Talk" in 1982. Consequently, the group's next album was a one-off side project recorded without the unavailable Sensible: a soundtrack to an imaginary 1960s movie called Give Daddy the Knife, Cindy.[11] This limited-run album of 1960s cover songs had the band billed as Naz Nomad and the Nightmares.
In 1984, The Damned made a live performance on the
BBC Television show The Young Ones performing their song "Nasty", featuring new bassist Bryn Merrick and both Jugg and Sensible on guitar. Sensible would play a last concert with the band at Brockwell Park (from which a bootleg called Captain's Last Stand was issued), before leaving to pursue his solo career full-time, Roman Jugg taking over his spot as guitarist.
From the beginnings of the band, Vanian had adopted a vampire-like appearance onstage, with chalk-white makeup and formal dress.[12] With Sensible gone, Vanian's image became more characteristic of the band as a whole. The Damned signed a contract with major label MCA, and the Phantasmagoria album followed in July 1985, preceded by the UK #21 single "Grimly Fiendish".
In January 1986, the non-album single "
Eloise," a cover of a 1968 hit by Barry Ryan, was a #3 chart success in the UK, the group's highest chart placing to date.
However, Phantasmagoria's November 1986 follow-up,
Anything, was a commercial failure, although MCA did include one of its tracks ("In Dulce Decorum") on the soundtrack release of Miami Vice II.
Late in 1987 The Damned began to work on a new album for MCA, but the result of these sessions remain unreleased as the record contract was dissolved. Two of the new songs ("Gunning For Love" and "The Loveless And The Damned") were later re-recorded by the
Dave Vanian and the Phantom Chords side project. James rejoined the group temporarily for a few live appearances, some of which appear on 1988's Final Damnation. Following this album the band disbanded again

During their hiatus,The Damned name was afforded homage, when two groups each covered a Damned song: Guns N' Roses recorded "New Rose" for their "The Spaghetti Incident?" (1993), while The Offspring covered "Smash It Up" for the Batman Forever soundtrack (1995). Both cover versions would enjoy major label distribution and create more exposure to the Damned sound, sometimes to a younger audience unfamiliar with the group.
In 1993 the group reformed with a new line-up featuring Scabies, Vanian, guitarists Kris Dollimore (formerly of
The Godfathers), and Alan Lee Shaw, and bassist Moose Harris in 1995. They toured regularly for about two years and released a new full-length album, Not of This Earth. Promoted with a series of long tours prior to its release, by the time the album was released The Damned had yet again split, partly as the result of legal battles: Vanian and Sensible accused Scabies of releasing Not of This Earth without proper authorization.
Sensible rejoined Vanian in 1996 and yet another formation of The Damned appeared. This initially featured bassist Paul Gray, who was later replaced by
Patricia Morrison, previously of The Bags, The Gun Club and The Sisters of Mercy.
In 2001, the band released Grave Disorder, followed by continual touring. Morrison and Vanian eventually married and had a daughter, Emily, born on 9 February 2004. During her pregnancy Morrison was replaced by ex-English Dog Stu West, her return to the band's lineup in the future however has not been ruled out.
In 2006, The Damned released the new single "
Little Miss Disaster", and a live DVD MGE25 documenting a 2004 Manchester concert celebrating the 25th anniversary of Machine Gun Etiquette. On 21 October 2006, BBC Radio 2 broadcast an hour-long documentary entitled Is She Really Going Out With Him? concerning the recording of the Damned's first single "New Rose" and the group's place in the 1976 London punk scene. Featuring interviews with James, Sensible, Scabies, Glen Matlock, Don Letts and Chrissie Hynde, the programme gave some new insights into the bands and personalities around the scene, particularly the ill-fated Anarchy in the U.K. tour.
On 28 October 2008, The Damned released for download their tenth studio album,
So, Who's Paranoid?, followed by a conventional release on the English Channel label on 10 November (UK) and 9 December (US).[13] To promote the album, the band made back to back appearances performing on the Halloween eve and Halloween episodes of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.[14] After a canceled US tour in January, the band finally rescheduled for a spring appearance along the east coast. They played a set and conducted a short interview on the Cherry Blossum Clinc on WFMU on May 16, 2009.

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