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Tuesday, 20 October 2015

The Black Album - The Damned (1980)

 A (Potted) History of The Damned 1976-80 (part whatever number first comes into your head! Please Pay close attention!)

The Damned had formed in 1976 with Dave Vanian (Vocals), Captain Sensible (Bass), Brian James (Guitar) and Rat Scabies (Drums). They played their first ever gig at the 100 Club supporting the Sex Pistols on 6th July 1976. They also played the 100 Club again as part of the Punk Festival on 20th September.

They were the first of the UK Punk bands to put out a single on Stiff Records as New Rose dropped 5 weeks before Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols. They were also the first of the UK Punk bands to put out an album as in February 1977 they released Damned Damned Damned (that peaked at #36 in the UK Charts). After the disappointing reaction to their second album Music for Pleasure (also released in 1977 and it didn't chart) Stiff Records dumped them and then they became one of the first of the major UK Punk Bands to split up, that was in February 1978. Rat Scabies left the band after the Music for Pleasure was recorded due to his displeasure with the record. He was replaced with former London drummer Jon Moss and Lu Edmonds had already been added to the band in August 1977.

Members of the band  all went their own way and began new projects. Rat Scabies had a band called The White Cats, Captain Sensible had a band called King, Brian James had Tanz Der Youth, Dave Vanian briefly joined The Doctors of Madness, and Lu Edmonds and Jon Moss formed The Edge (who actually weren't that great, I saw them support The Stranglers at Battersea Park and thought they were abysmal!).

Late 1978 Rat had formed a one-off band for a show called Les Punks that featured Rat, the Captain, Dave and Lemmy of  Motörhead on Bass and then under the name of The Doomed, Captian Sensible had switched to Guitar and then Henry Badowski was drafted in for a bit more of a stretch on Bass until Algy Ward (formerly of The Saints between 1977-78) was named as the official Bass player of the band. By April 1979 The Doomed played their first show under the name of The Damned, signed a new record deal with Chiswick and set about recording some new music.

Love Song / Burglar  had been issued as a free single ( A Dodgy Demo it said on the label) and was given away at some of the gigs under the name The Doomed and by April 1979 it was to become the first single to a potential new album (Machine Gun Etiquette) that was eventually released in November. It peaked at #20 in the charts, Smash It Up and I Just Can't Be Happy Today followed and then the album made it to #31 in the charts.

I saw them on the Machine Gun tour at the Rainbow (30th November 1979) where they were absolutely mesmerising.

All of that led to the fourth album (which went a couple of places higher in the chart than Machine Gun). It was a Double Album  with 12 new songs over three sides and the fourth was given over to some live material that was recorded at a fan club event at Shepperton Studios (and was eventually released as a full set in it's own right in 1982).

This was also the first album that Paul Gray appeared on as bassist (Algy Ward had left the band earlier in 1980 to form a New Wave of British Heavy Metal Band called Tank). Gray had formerly been the bassist for Eddie and the Hot Rods and The Black Album was also last album for Chiswick.

The album is interesting from the point of view that The Damned had begun a bit of a musical turn. Captain Sensible said that Dave Vanian was moving to a darker direction, and said of the album, "It is goth: we didn't set out to do that but that is just the way it is. He did have a hearse, he was a grave digger".

Personally I think that the Goth side of things only really turns up in Side 3 of the album with the 17min Curtain Call! But that's just me possibly. They were probably more "Goth" 5 years later when they released Phantasmagoria  (and The Captain was no longer with the band by then!).

Two years after it's release it was reissued as a single album by Big Beat Records in September 1982 (a month before The Damned's first album for Bronze - Strawberries). Quite why they felt the need to dispense with Curtain Call I cannot understand for a moment because it is actually one of the vital tracks of the whole album! I can understand not including the live tracks as Ace Records had I'm sure released the Live Shepperton 1980 album by then, but such an important track being omitted is scandalous. It would be a bit like an artist like Springsteen having Born to Run reissued excluding Jungleland from the tracklist! (Not that I'm trying to say that The Black Album is on a par with Born to Run but I hope you grasp what I'm getting at). They also released a further two singles from the album that didn't chart.

Big Beat Records maybe saw the error of their ways because when they reissued it again as 2CD deluxe version they reinstated Curtain Call and the six live tracks along with various B-Sides and the cover of Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit that was released as a single in 1980 and There Ain't No Sanity Clause.

For their 35th Anniversary Tour in 2011 The Damned played in sequence Damned Damned Damned and The Black Album. This was released on a Double Album.

The Black Album - The Damned
Chiswick
Produced by The Damned and Hans Zimmer (he only produced The History of the World (Part 1)
Released October 1980
UK Chart #29

 Personnel
The Damned

    Dave Vanian – Vocals
    Captain Sensible – Electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards and vocals; lead vocals on "Silly Kids Games"
    Paul Gray – Bass
    Rat Scabies – Drums, guitar on "Drinking About My Baby"

The Black Album (Minus the live tracks! )


Tracklist For The Black Album
All songs written by Rat Scabies/Captain Sensible/Paul Gray/Dave Vanian except * by Scabies/Sensible/Gray/Vanian/Billy Karloff, ** by Scabies/Sensible/Gray/Vanian/Giovanni Dadomo.

Side one
    "Wait for the Blackout" – 3:57 *
    "Lively Arts" – 2:59
    "Silly Kids Games" – 2:35
    "Drinking About My Baby" – 3:04
    "Twisted Nerve" – 4:39
    "Hit or Miss" – 2:37

Side two
    "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" – 4:35 **
    "Sick of This and That" – 1:50
    "The History of the World (Part 1)" – 3:45
    "13th Floor Vendetta" – 5:05
    "Therapy" – 6:12

Side three
    "Curtain Call" – 17:13


Side four
All songs written by Scabies/Sensible/Vanian/Algy Ward except ** by Scabies/Sensible/Vanian/Ward/Dadomo, ‡ by Brian James.

Song entitled "Second Time Around" is actually "Machine Gun Etiquette", the title track from the band's previous album.

    "Love Song" [Live] – 2:10
    "Second Time Around" [Live] – 1:46
    "Smash It Up (Parts 1 and 2)" [Live] – 4:24
    "New Rose" [Live] – 1:49 ‡
    "I Just Can't Be Happy Today" [Live] – 3:55 **
    "Plan 9 Channel 7" [Live] – 5:12

Added to the Deluxe Version
"White Rabbit" - 3:00
"Rabid (Over You)" – 3:44
"Seagulls" - 2:36
"The History of the World (Part 1)" [Single Version] – 3:48
"I Believe the Impossible" - 2:54
"Sugar and Spite" - 1:30
"There Ain't No Sanity Clause" - 2:29
"Looking At You" [Live] - 5:51
"White Rabbit" [Extended Version - Original Mix] - 5:24

Singles From The Black Album

  1. The History of the World (Part 1) / I Believe The Impossible / Sugar and Spite
    Released: September 1980 UK Chart #51 
  2. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde / Looking At You (Live)
    Released: 13 February 1981
  3. Wait for the Blackout / Jet Boy Jet Girl (Captain Sensible and the Softies)
    Released: 6 May 1982
  4. Lively Arts / Teenage Dream (Live)
    Released: 10 October 1982
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