The Damned – Damned Damned Damned
Released February 18th, 1977 on Stiff Records
The Damned beat the Sex Pistols to punk rock by mere months. Popular recognition goes to Johnny Rotten and Co. because of the visual aspect: the Sex Pistols looked like something you would decry as “punk rock” in the tabloid newspapers while the legislature was issuing proclamations banning them. The Damned just looked like smart-ass kids, theatre students who were really into Alice Cooper and the Rolling Stones. They avoided Clash-like posturing and politics as well, preferring to sing about getting laid and being degenerate. Regardless, their lead single “New Rose” established the scene, and the success of that single brought them into the studio to record their album. Damned Damned Damned feels like a defining document, even though it never gets treated as such. “Neat Neat Neat” and “I Fall” set the pace for every band that came after, though; the compact, gut-punch guitar work of Brian James makes the genre’s aggressiveness known right away, and his buzzsaw playing drew contemporary comparisons to Pete Townshend. The drummer, Rat Scabies, is of note as well, with an early look into the tightly controlled pounding he would become known for. This is especially true of the riveting intro to “New Rose”, which batters down all opposition in favour of pure rock. “Fan Club” and “Feel The Pain” touch on the aforementioned Alice Cooper influence, and also presage the band’s eventual turn toward gothic rock. “Born To Kill” is the opening salvo in what punk rock would sound like within five years. The Sex Pistols may have won the fashion show, but The Damned defined the sound in a visceral way.