New Rose

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.

 


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God Save The Queen

 

January 31st 2016 marks the 60th birthday of John Lydon better known as Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten.  As this week begins with a punk icons birthday and on Friday I’m off to see Stoke punk legends Discharge, I think the blog this week will be punk heavy!

The history of punk and what constitutes as punk is such a convoluted and baffling question.  Ask 50 punks of varying ages in differing locations and I guarantee you will get a  multitude of different answers.

The New York City club CBGB’s was influential and was hosting the likes of Ramones a few years before the Sex Pistols were formed, but the Pistols had the look and attitude that would later become synonymous with the punk genre. Over in the States Detroit’s MC5 released an album nearly a decade earlier than both bands that could be considered punk.

Moving on into the 80’s, 90’s and beyond there are bands now lumped into their separate scenes like hardcore, pop punk, street punk and Oi! that some will consider as punk and others will not. They all have roots in the ideology of the punk lifestyle but they all have a different take on the sound.  Punk has always been considered an attitude rather than a sound.

The Sex Pistols are one of the most influential punk bands ever, but only released one studio album (Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols) in their two and a half year career. The “look” of the band can be credited to their manager Malcolm McLaren, who’d been inspired from briefly managing the New York Dolls in the States, and his designer girlfriend at the time Vivienne Westwood. Steve Jones – then on vocals – and drummer Paul Cook were in a band called Strand.  Bass player Glen Matlock was in for a while but quit or fired (depends who you ask) before the album was released, even though he’d been involved in writing most of the albums tracks.  In the summer of 1975 Lydon was pretty much dragged off the Kings Road to front the band. In 1977 Sid Vicious, the “creator” of the pogo dance joined the band on bass, but Steve Jones had already recorded most of the bass for the album.

The bands United States tour in early 1978 was fraught with disaster and controversy, with the majority of it revolving around Sid Vicious, that lead to the band pretty much splitting by the end when Lydon left. They carried on for a while with Vicious on vocals, but it all ended later that year.

Released during the Queen’s silver jubilee in 1977, God Save the Queen reached the heady heights of number two in the UK charts, kept off the top by Rod Stewart’s I Don’t Want to Talk About It. It has been claimed that the Pistols not reaching the top spot was a fix to save embarrassment and from causing offence.

Rip Her To Shreds

I’ve not done the iPod shuffle for a few days now, but today it has taken me back to December 1976. New York City at the height of the cities new wave and punk culture housed at the infamous CBGB’s club. More about CBGB’s at a later date!!

Rip Her To Shreds – a song about gossip columnists ruining careers –  is taken from Blondie’s self titled debut album. Blondie are a band I’ve not really gotten to grips with regarding their albums. I’m familiar with the majority of their well known hits first time around and when they were welcomed back as a band after a 17 hiatus.

A bit of trivia… Their come back single Maria hit the top of the UK singles chart two decades after they first hit top spot with Heart Of Glass in 1979, which in turn made them the first and only American band to have a number one single in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

2014 saw them celebrate their 40th anniversary and work on a new album was announced earlier this year.