Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Damned initially came together in the first wave of British punk rock. They have dissolved and reformed many times, often incorporating other elements in their music, most notably garage rock, psychedelic music, the British theatrical horror-rock of Screaming Lord Sutch and the rock-Vaudeville of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band , and New Romantic. They are regarded as one of the founders of gothic rock.
The Damned played their first gig on 6 July, 1976, supporting The Sex Pistols at the 100 Club in London. They were the first of the London punk bands to release a single -- New Rose, on the independent Stiff Records.
- Dave Vanian (David Lett) - vocals
- Brian James (Brian Robertson) - guitar
- Captain Sensible (Ray Burns) - bass guitar (although for most of his career with The Damned he played guitar and keyboards and performed occasional lead vocals)
- Rat Scabies (Chris Millar) - drums
"New Rose," The Damned's first single, remains a classic of early punk rock, described by one critic as "deathless anthem of nuclear-strength romantic angst untroubled by bad vibes."  It is a cheaply-recorded, but catchy and well-crafted pop song, 'punk' mostly in its volume and breakneck delivery. Vanian's deadpan intro--"Is she really going out with him?"--was later borrowed by Joe Jackson for the title of arguably his best-known song.
Their first album, Damned Damned Damned featured a stomping cover of The Stooges' "1970," retitled "I Feel Alright." Scabies' powerful, Keith Moon-style drumming is prominent throughout. James wrote much of the material. The Damned were not generally respected at this point, having been accused by punks of being opportunists and poseurs, and by the wider public of being one-hit wonders. The album, however, provided several more minor hits, and a crucial extra dash of credibility: Like the single, it was the first album released by a British punk band.
The Damned next recruited a second guitarist, Lu Edmunds, a move inspired in part by the ferocious dual-guitar attack of The MC5, but also reportedly engineered by Brian James in order to keep Sensible -- himself a talented guitarist -- from switching his bass for guitar and competing with James. This expanded version recorded the second album Music For Pleasure, which was produced by Pink Floyd's Nick Mason and featured an appearance by free jazz sax player Lol Coxhill. The album flopped critically and commercially. James, the band's main songwriter, left the group in 1978 (he later cofounded The Lords of the New Church); the band splintered; Scabies attempted suicide; and a complex series of brief side projects and solo recordings appeared and disappeared, making little impact. The band, sans Lu & James whom are not acknowledged as crucial members by followers of the band because their minimal contribution to the group’s legacy overall, would edit Music For Pleasure from their "official" discography and never play anything live from it again; basically pretending it was never made. Blaming Music For Pleasure on James ego and rational for parting with James.
The Damned soon tentatively reformed, first performing as "The Dimmed" and "The Doomed" to avoid potential trademark problems. Sensible had switched to guitar and keyboards, and after a brief interlude with Lemmy Kilmister of Hawkwind and Motörhead playing bass, the position was filled by Algy Ward, formerly of the Australian punk band The Saints.
This lineup recorded 1979's Machine Gun Ettiquete, a radically more diverse and musically polished album, with an influence from mid 1960's rock and at times an even more manic, heavy delivery than before. The Damned were sometimes seen as a novelty act, but Machine Gun Etiquette forced critics and the public to make a reassessment. A 12-inch single was released, with a version of Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit, and a 17-minute, classically-influenced song, Curtain Call, on the B-side. It was an explicit disavowal of many of punk's "rules", and came admidst the band's greatest success to date. This single was released after the release of their next record - just one of the many record label fights with the band due to the band always signing bad deals. The single confused fans & further complicated their publicity for charting.
From the beginning of The Damned, Vanian had affected a vampire-like appearance onstage, complete with chalk-white makeup and cape. With the next album, The Black Album, the band turned into a proto-Goth ensemble, emphasizing Vanian's role over Sensible's clownish persona, with the rhythm section somewhat modifying their characteristic stoner-thug appearance (Ward had left at this point, to be replaced by Paul Grey (previously with seminal UK pub rockers Eddie and the Hotrods )). The medium remained (mostly) heavy rock, but with increasing use of keyboards and a new-romantic ambiance. This album was/is much copied by American punk bands, to the point of Government Issue singer outright stating their, as well as much of the so-called "O.C." punk scene literally copied the songs, sound and structure. This can be heard in the sound of Social Distortion from the early 80s era through the late 90s in the band The Offspring. The Offspring’s record label "Nitro" signed the Damned for their Grave Disorder album as a "pay back" & openly state their love of the Damned.
After the subsequent album, Strawberries, and a brace of non-LP singles released by the band in absence of a record deal, Sensible left to pursue a successful solo career. (Whereas with Spinal Tap, it was drummers that exploded, with The Damned, what exploded was record contracts. After the initial stint with Stiff, deals followed and collapsed with labels such as Chiswick, Bronze, and Big Beat with striking regularity).
After Sensible's departure, the Gothic influence took over unimpeded. A contract appeared with Geffen, and the successful Phantasmagoria album followed. A one-off side project, Naz Nomad and the Nightmares, reunited Sensible with the band for an album of '60s covers, and another critical and commercial flop, 1986's Anything, ended the band's record deal and original run.
James rejoined temporarily for a few live appearances, some of which appear on 1989's Final Damnation.
The Damned have remained active to the present, usually centered aroud Vanian and Sensible. With only sporadic releases, the band spent most of the 10 years between 1996 and 2005 touring furiously. Patricia Morrison, previously of The Bags, The Gun Club and The Sisters of Mercy joined, and is married to Vanian.
- New Rose / Help (single, 1976)
- Neat, Neat, Neat / Stab Your Back / Singalonga Scabies (single, 1977)
- Damned, Damned, Damned (album, 1977)
- Stretcher Case Baby / Sick Of Being Sick (single, 1977)
- Problem Child / You Take My Money (single, 1977)
- Don't Cry Wolf / One Way Love (single, 1977)
- Music for Pleasure (album, 1977; produced by Nick Mason of Pink Floyd)
- Love Song / Noise, Noise, Noise / Suicide (single, 1979)
- Smash it Up / Burglar (single, 1979)
- Just Can't Be Happy Today / Ballroom Blitz / The Turkey Song (single, 1980)
- Machine Gun Etiquette (album, 1979)
- The Black Album (album, 1980)
- There Ain't No Sanity Clause c/w Hit or Miss • Looking At You (live) (single for Christmas 1980)
- FRIDAY 13th EP c/w Disco Man / Limit Club / Billy Bad Breaks / Citadel (One off single deal with the NEMS label, produced by Tony Mansfield of New Musik, 1981)
- Strawberries (album, 1982)
- Thanks For The Night c/w Nasty (single, B-side 'Nasty' appeared on TV programme 'The Young Ones'-12" features extra track 'Do The Blitz, 1984)
- Phantasmagoria (album, 1985)
- Damned But Not Forgotten (album of various demos/tracks recorded sometime during the 'Strawberries' era then released in 1985)
- Anything (album, 1986)
- Final Damnation (note this album has been bootleged & is the same as many of the "live" albums that are sold in various packages, Final Damnation is the official live album recorded at The Town & Country Club in London on 13/6/1988, released 1989)
- Fun Factory c/w A Riot On Eastbourne Pier (Remix)"(single, 1991)
- Prokofiev c/w Prokofiev (Instrumental) (single-only sold at shows in this year, 1991)
- Not Of This Earth (album, 1995 called I’m Alright, Jack & the Beanstalk when released in Japan in 1996)
- Testify (single from Not of this Earth with remixs & live cuts, 1997)
- The Chaos Years-Rare & Unreleased 1977 - 1982 (album, 1997)
- Grave Disorder (album, 2001)
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