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.
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.
Captain Sensible: Guitars, Vocals, Keyboards. Solo Vocals on ¶
Rat Scabies: Drums & Vocals. Guitar on *
Paul Gray: Bass
Dave Vanian: Vocals
Hans Zimmer: Synthesizers on #
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".
Produced by The Damned
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).
IRS GREATEST HITS, VOLS 2 & 3 (IRS SP70800) includes
"Wait For The Blackout".
Tons of links live on the old WWW. Here's the best of what Mr Bill found...