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THE DAMNED BIOGRAPHY

Trying to accurately document the history of the first punk band to record, to chart and to tour America is a bit of a challenge because changes in the line-up and (sometimes) name changes just make it tough! The line-ups and other bands that evolved into and from The Damned read like a veritable "who's who" of punk and new wave!

Starting around 1975, Brian James (Brian James Robertson) was in a punk band called London S.S. with Mick Jones, Terry Chimes and Paul Simonon (which would leter evolve into The Clash). The only thing that would help to keep this straight would be one of those fancy "Rock Family Trees" (and, yes, we're working on it, folks)! He soon hooked up with Rat Scabies (Chris Miller) and Captain Sensible (Ray Burns) in Nick Kent's Subterraneans. Other "comers and goers" went on to Chelsea (which itself evolved into Generation X). James, Sensible and Scabies became the Masters Of The Backside, managed by Malcolm McLaren (later to become famous as manager of The Sex Pistols) and briefly featuring a "pre-Pretenders" Chrissie Hynde on vocals. They became The Damned after Scabies recruited Dave Vanian (David Letts), fittingly, a gravedigger, after hearing him sing at a funeral. This is considered the "classic line-up."

The quartet first performed in July 1976 and soon became famous for their stage act: Sensible in his tutu and feather boa, Vanian looking ever-so-much like Dracula, and everyone picking blows with the audience in true punk style. They were soon signed to Stiff Records and followed their first LP and single (produced by Nick Lowe) with a tour of the US. The second LP didn't fare as well and The Damned called it quits in early 1978, each member forming new bands.

The Damned as of 1980
In 1979 they reformed, minus Brian James, as The Doomed (Brian James retained the rights to the name "The Damned" and would not relinquish it till early in 1980) with Henry Badowski on bass for a while, and then "Algy" (Alistair Ward). It was at this time they had their biggest hits: "Love Song" and "Smash It Up". Paul Grey soon replaced "Algy" on bass and The Damned once again toured the US and found their first American-released LP, THE BLACK ALBUM, on IRS.

In 1982 Captain Sensible began flirting with a solo career with minor hits like "Wot" and " Happy Talk", but remained with The Damned for the most part, before quitting for good in 1984. They continued touring and recording until 1989 when they embarked on a "farewell tour" that summer.


IRS DISCOGRAPHY

This discography will cover only THE DAMNED's recordings for IRS Records. Recordings for other labels, other recordings, solo recordings and guest appearances, may be mentioned in the biography or discography, but details can be found by visiting some of the cool links for THE DAMNED, below...

Albums & EPs

Black Album cover THE BLACK ALBUM
IRS SP70012 (Released 17 Nov 1980)

Vinyl Only
Produced by The Damned (as the "Kings Of Reverb")
# Produced by Hans Zimmer
Engineered by Hugh Jones
Recorded at Rockfield Studios
Art Concept & Design Dave Vanian
Photography by A. Ballard
Cover Execution by H. Leadbitter
Licensed from Chiswick Records, Ltd.

Musicians:
Captain Sensible: Guitars, Vocals, Keyboards. Solo Vocals on
Rat Scabies: Drums & Vocals. Guitar on *
Paul Gray: Bass
Dave Vanian: Vocals
Additional Musicians:
Hans Zimmer: Synthesizers on #

Track Listing:

  1. Wait For The Blackout (Scabies/Sensible/Gray/Vanian/Karloff) 3:55
  2. Lively Arts (Scabies/Sensible/Gray/Vanian) 3:01
  3. Silly Kids Games (Scabies/Sensible/Gray/Vanian) 2:27 ¶
  4. Drinking About My Baby (Scabies/Sensible/Gray/Vanian) 3:28 *
  5. Twisted Nerve (Scabies/Sensible/Gray/Vanian) 4:31
  6. Hit Or Miss (Scabies/Sensible/Gray/Vanian) 2:35
  7. Dr. Jeckyl & Mr. Hyde (Scabies/Sensible/Gray/Vanian/Dadomo) 4:35
  8. Sick Of This And That (Scabies/Sensible/Gray/Vanian) 1:48
  9. History Of The World Part 1 (Scabies/Sensible/Gray/Vanian) 3:52 #
  10. 13th Floor Vendetta (Scabies/Sensible/Gray/Vanian) 3:46
  11. Therapy (Scabies/Sensible/Gray/Vanian/Hart) 7:39
This Damned fine LP (pun intended, to borrow a line from IRS) came at a time when The Damned were experiencing moderate chart success in their homeland. Purportedly a concept album, each tune segues into the next. In other words, each side is one long piece of musical theatre.

THE BLACK ALBUM was the first Damned LP to have a US release and they toured in the US in support of it, primarily in the big cities, where the punk movement this side of the Atlantic was in full swing. It's interesting to note that Academy Award® winning composer Hans Zimmer contributed musically to one song on this album...

Best cuts on the albums are "Wait For The Blackout", "Silly Kids Games", "Lively Arts", "History Of The World Part 1" and "Dr. Jeckyl & Mr. Hyde".


Singles

9022 Sleeve "Dr. Jeckyl & Mr. Hyde"/"Looking At You (Live)"
IRS IR9022 (Released 13 Feb 1981)


Produced by The Damned


Musicians:
Captain Sensible: Guitars, Vocals & Keyboards
Rat Scabies: Drums & Vocals
Paul Gray: Bass
Dave Vanian: Vocals

Why "Dr. Jeckyl & Mr. Hyde" was chosen to be the single cut from THE BLACK ALBUM is a mystery. Not that there is anything wrong with the song -- it remains a favorite off the LP. It's just that there are so many songs better than it... "Wait For The Blackout" was a much more powerful tune. "Silly Kids Games" and "Lively Arts" clearly had pop potential and "History Of The World Part 1" was even released as a 12" single in the UK.

The B-side is a lively version of MC5's "Looking At You" recorded live (location not listed).


Compilations & Soundtracks

IRS GREATEST HITS, VOLS 2 & 3 (IRS SP70800) includes "Wait For The Blackout".


THE DAMNED LINKS & OTHER COOL STUFF

Tons of links live on the old WWW. Here's the best of what Mr Bill found...



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This Page Last Updated 19 September 2002
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