The Damned have several claims to firsts over the Sex Pistols in the world of British punk rock. Formed in London 1976 they released the first single by a British punk band – their single New Rose was released five weeks prior to Anarchy in the UK. Debut album Damned, Damned, Damned was released in February 1977 – eight months before Never Mind The Bollocks… surfaced. Finally when The Damned played in Boston during March of 1977 they were the first British punk band to perform in America.
I don’t know why, but I’ve never really listened to the band on a regular basis, and hence never seen the band live. Since their inception they have taken a few breaks, but still play regularly, with one line up or another. Nearly 40 years later vocalist Dave Vanian has been the only constant since ’76, even though the Captain is back again in the fold. I probably own less than a dozen of their songs and know them more through other avenues. The first recollection of anything associated with The Damned was back in my chart listening days when guitarist Captain Sensible hit the top of the charts with his version of Happy Talk from the musical South Pacific in 1982. Next would have been their highest charting single to date when they peaked at number three with their gothic interpretation of Eloise by Paul Ryan in 1986. Both of these songs are a far cry from what the band were putting out at the tail end of the 70’s, and their mid 80s look was comparatively way out here too.
There have been quite a few cover versions of their songs over the years and the two that I have and play on a semi regular basis are Smash It Up recorded by The Offspring for the Batman Forever soundtrack in 1995 and The Spaghetti Incident, an album of cover versions released by Guns ‘N’ Roses in 1993, which features New Rose with vocals by Guns bassist Duff McKagan.