The Walking Rock Alphabet: D
What a difference a day makes (again)! After trudging out in winter clothes yesterday, my journey today happened in nearly 70 degree weather! No jacket necessary, bitch!
So we’re up to “D”, and I had a number of potentially great albums to choose from, including classics by Sonic Youth, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Grandpaboy (aka Paul Westerberg), Jawbreaker...the list goes on and on. I decided to go with another overlooked classic - Damned Damned Damned, the debut album by The Damned (obviously).
It is strange to me just how under-appreciated this band is these days. Not only were they first UK punk band to release a single (“New Rose”), but this album was the first punk album to make the UK charts. Plus, they were the first band to attempt to bring their music to America, and their theatrical stage presence helped set the stage for the goth movement of the 80’s.
Let’s go back to that point about coming to our fine country. Unless you were a chart-topping arena rock band, there was little to gain from British rock bands to hit the U.S. It was tough enough for punk bands to perform in their home country, as evident by the disastrous Sex Pistols tour that saw 25 of 26 shows cancelled (or something like that). At least the cities in the UK were relatively close to each other.
It’s another thing to try to conquer a country as big as the U.S., especially when you can count the number of cities that had even a small resemblance of a punk rock scene at that point of time. New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco...and where else?
As can be expected, the tour was a disaster. The impetus for hitting our shores was reportedly to find a record deal, and that didn’t happen. Frustrated, drummer Rat Scabies left soon after they returned to Britain.
Back to Damned Damned Damned, though. While they may not have found that elusive US record deal (the album wasn’t released here until 1989), this album set the stage for their entire career. Scabies’ Keith Moon-ish intensity on drums, Captain Sensible’s guitar-ish approach to bass, Dave Vanian’s spooky vocal style, and Brian James’ take-no-prisoners, Stooge’s-ish lead guitar all combine to create a furious wall of sound perfectly captured by producer Nick Lowe.
The singles (“Neat Neat Neat” and “New Rose”) may get all the attention here, but there’s not a bum tune to be found here. “Fan Club”, “Stab Your Back”, “1 of the 2”, and “Feel the Pain” are also noteworthy, but to fully experience the album one should purchase the triple-disc 30th anniversary version that also includes covers of The Beatles (“Help”), The Stooges (“I Feel Alright”), and The Who (“Circles”), along with b-sides, outtakes and live tracks.
Needless to say, though, but my venture out on this warm, fall day was only the original version. I’m not yet ready to even think about extending these walks to include bonus material.