Review by Phil Wilson
The latter days of 2012 have seen The Damned re-release their tremendous debut album, Damned Damned Damned, complete with two accompanying discs overflowing with rare cuts, BBC sessions and audio from the group’s first gig – supporting the Sex Pistols at London’s 100 Club. With the full release culminating in hours of spectacular music, a new album of photographs and a first time four member interview piece; it’s simply too much to cram into a few hundred words. Thus, I listened to a cherry-picked, Frankenstein’s monster-esque version of Damned Damned Damned, all in the interests of journalism or something.
We open with the characteristic, reverberating and incessantly hum-worthy ripping bass of ‘Neat Neat Neat’; a pulsing track which captures the raw energy the band possessed in their early days. Over three decades on, this first studio offering, from one of the UK’s biggest names in punk, remains towered above current day imitations – worthy of a string of detailed bonus releases, let alone one. Classics, ‘Born To Kill’ and ‘I Fall’ follow suit, with the same frantic, fiery flurry of guitar work and rapid percussion, coupled with creative word play: “My mind’s a raging blame./A crying shame and I’m sad/ A city of sin, a bottle of gin/ So dog-gone bad”. With ‘Feel The Pain’, the listener is reminded of the genre-spanning interests of the group (particularly seen in later releases such as Strawberries and Phantasmagoria). Its a reigned in, slower track with a more minimalist approach to both singing and musicianship. The short flavour of the alternative wedges itself between the previous ‘Born To Kill’ et al and the album’s quarter marking tracks, ‘1 Of The 2’ and ‘So Messed Up’ – another two contributions to the back catalogue which helped establish the band as punk royalty.
Things become slightly more interesting to the average Damned fan, when listening to the BBC Peel Session versions of tracks they’ve come to identify with. ‘New Rose’ opens with the self-parodying opening words “Are we really 65 in the charts?” In a bid for rarity continuity, next in line is a live rendition of the limited edition single ‘Stretcher Case Baby’ – widely regarded as one of the band’s first notable steps away from traditional punk traits, the song is an exciting addition. Not to mention a brilliant example of the proficiency of the group’s live play-throughs. The aforementioned proficiency does take some blows with the feedback-heavy epitaph, ‘Help’, one of the selections from The 100 Club show. However, the sloppiness is authentic to the true feel of a genuine band, playing genuine music, with genuine enthusiasm.
Damned Damned Damned will remain one of the long-standing, finest examples of raw punk music, and is more than worthy of its decorative re-release and subsequent add-ons.
9 out of 10
1. Neat Neat Neat
2. Born To Kill
3. I Fall
4. Feel The Pain
5. 1 Of The 2
6. So Messed Up
7. New Rose (Peel Session)
8. Stretcher Case Baby (In Concert, 19/5/77)
9. Sick Of Being Sick (Stiff Single, July 1977)
10. Help (Live @ The 100 Club)