Play It At Your Sister
These days you get reissues coming out left, right and centre for all sorts of reasons, particularly amongst the punk fraternity and The Damned are no exception. Their seminal first album had a 30th anniversary issue ten years ago so we shouldn't be surprised that it now gets one for its 40th.
There is nothing new here in terms of content aside from a re-master, although it does get a vinyl issue and comes with a nice booklet of press clippings and promo shots, which will please many fans given the price an original issue will set you back these days. What the listener does get here however is one of the finest debut albums of all time! That claim isn't made lightly, when it is considered in the context of the time it was released, the age of the band at the time and the facilities available to them it is nothing short of stunning.
This is raw, aggressive and just full of the spirit of 1976. The Damned, probably more than any other band from that time, captured the sound and feel of their live performance on record; the result is that it sounds as fresh and exciting today as it did 40 years ago. Singer Dave Vanian was still honing his craft but even here on tracks like Feel The Pain there is a wealth of dynamics and edge. The key to what makes this album so good though is the combination of Rat Scabies intense drumming and Brian James outstanding guitar work. The little lead licks that James throws in at every juncture coupled with some great riffs mean that there is absolutely no filler here and I include the much maligned, Scabies penned Stab Yor Back in that. Sure compared to the rest of the album it's not quite in the same league but even here with it's simplistic structure it hits you like a freight train.
Whilst the highlight must surely be the first ever punk single New Rose there are multiple other gems on offer with So Messed Up hinting at the melody that would become so much a part of their later work. The debate about who were 'proper' punks and who was the best, most influential etc, has raged for decades and continues to do so. The simple fact is that all of that first wave of UK punk bands were completely different from each other and that's what made it so great! They all influenced the bands that followed, which explains why punk went off on so many tangents and was all the better for it. Any retrospective of the recorded works from that period however cannot fail to acknowledge that Damned Damned Damned led the way and in many respects continues to do so when you hear the constant list of new bands that name check it as an influence.
A little shambolic in places, certainly raw but an utterly glorious noise and everything punk should be.