Punk Rock Icons The Damned Release New Single, “Black is the Night”

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‘BLACK IS THE NIGHT’  HERE:

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The Damned ‘Black Is The
Night’ (The Definitive Anthology)

Released November 1st via BMG
on 4 x LP/2 x CD set

Pre-order the album here

The greatest surviving
British punk band, THE DAMNED, are set to release
their most comprehensive collection of songs yet, with a new greatest hits
collection, ‘BLACK IS THE NIGHT’ released via BMG on
November 1st.  Today, their new single and title track ‘Black Is
The Night’ is released. The Damned play Madison Square Garden with
the Original Misfits and Rancid on October
19th.

DAMNED UNTIL DEATH (LINER
NOTES):

They were the first, and they
may just well be the last. As any good punk fan knows, The Damned released the
first UK punk single with ‘New Rose’, the first UK punk album with Damned
Damned Damned
 and toured America when the Sex Pistols were still
thinking about being pretty vacant.

And so things came full
circle with the release of 2018’s ‘Evil Spirits’, giving the Damned their first
ever Top 10 UK album, and legendary bassist Paul Gray re-joining Captain
Sensible and Dave Vanian after nearly two decades away. The Damned entered 2019
on a high. Smash It Up? More like on smashing form. There couldn’t be a better
time to finally compile the ultimate Damned compendium as they finish the year
playing New York’s hallowed Madison Square Garden and the London Palladium for
therir ‘Night Of A Thoousand Vempires’. 

Gathering the Damned’s
original four protagonists together to share their thoughts on this very unique
compilation was never going to be easy. Guitarist Brian James,
singer and gravedigger Dave Vanian, the inimitable Captain
Sensible 
and drum demolition king Rat Scabies were
plied with the promise of a few ales, and tales were told, blood was spilled,
and here we have it – ‘Black Is The Night’ – the first truly comprehensive
Damned anthology, spanning their entire career. These tracks have been
specifically chosen by the band themselves and every track and every Damned
album tells a different story. They are a band that never repeats themselves,
with every record charting new territory and breaking new ground.

PUNK

Original Damned guitarist and
Mr ‘New Rose’ himself, Brian James had the idea for a hard and fast-hitting
rock ‘n’ roll band after his group Bastard split in 1975.”Basically, I had
ideas for a bunch of songs and when I met Rat, him being the right drummer, it
just brought out the rest of the songs in me really. Once we met Captain he
joined in. I knew what I wanted Captain to do because he just had to follow the
chords and keep it very basic. I didn’t want any jazz runs or anything stupid,
just tough and to the point. Then when we found Dave, it was roughly the same
kind of thing. I wrote the lyrics and sang in his ear how I heard it – a kind
of second rate Iggy imitation. It was a gradual process.”

“I went up and listened to
Brian play his songs on acoustic guitar and I was just completely knocked out
by ‘New Rose’ and ‘Fan Club’ and the rest of them,” remembered Sensible. “He
had these songs all ready to go and he really had this incredible vision. And I
went back to Croydon that night and got my hair chopped off”.

Never ones to hang around,
The Damned made their live debut at London’s 100 Club supporting the Sex
Pistols on the 6th of July 1976. Barely twelve weeks later they
released ‘New Rose’ on Stiff Records – a full five weeks before the Pistols’
‘Anarchy In The UK’. “I’d been messing around with ‘New Rose’ for a while with
my previous band,” explains Brian. “The minute Rat played it – I asked him for
‘jungle drums’ to go with my riff – I thought ‘Fuck! This is great!’ He set the
thing on fire and the rest of it just followed”.

The searing Nick
Lowe-produced debut album Damned Damned Damned rapidly
followed in February 1977. “We were absolute bastards to Nick Lowe”, sniggers
Captain, “I think we’ve still got a bit of that left but nothing like we were.
We were sods. Anyone we met went through it”.

‘Neat, Neat, Neat’ was the
follow up single and a UK tour with Marc Bolan’s T. Rex brought The Damned to a
bigger audience before they headed out to America in the spring of ’77. Playing
the likes of New York’s CBGB’s in the company of the Dead Boys and wooing
audiences in Los Angeles with their super-fast punk. Along the way The Damned
also found time to be one of the main highlights at the two Mont de Marsan punk
festivals in France along with Eddie and the Hot Rods and The Clash.

Barely catching their breath
after continuous touring in the UK and Europe, eight months after their debut
album, Stiff Records demanded a follow up. “Oh yeah, that was a pisser,” Brian
exclaims. “The fact was we didn’t have any songs. I had one song – ‘You Take My
Money’ – that I’d written whilst touring. Once the first album came out we were
gigging everywhere including the States. Then Jake, our manager, said ‘Right,
we want another album’. The first album was a combination of riffs I’d been
building in my mind over the previous four or five years. I just said ‘Dave,
Rat, Cap, help me out here! Get your thinking caps on because I can’t come up
with an album like that’. Some people really dig it. Luckily Rat came up with
some nice lyric ideas and stuff like that. ‘Problem Child’, that’s got a little
place in my heart. Everyone’s playing is really good on it”.

“It was the first time the
rest of the band had ever written really,” Rat discloses their song writing naivety
at this point. “Brian said he didn’t have any songs and he said ‘Maybe it’s
time you guys write some’. It was an alright record at the wrong time. When I
listen back to some of what we play on it – some of it, the politics and that,
there’s some fast and furious type stuff going on. That was a band ready to do
something different but didn’t have the ingredients to do it”.

At Brian James’s bequest they
added a second guitarist, Lu Edmonds, to the line-up. The band wanted Pink
Floyd’s drug-challenged recluse, Syd Barrett, to produce Music For
Pleasure
, but when he couldn’t be persuaded they were lumped with Floyd
drummer Mason – who stepped into the production chair with mixed results. “Nick
Mason couldn’t mix a G&T! He’s got a nice Ferrari though” chuckles Captain.

CHAOS 

After Music For
Pleasure 
failed to match their debut’s sales expectations, Stiff
dropped the band and Rat jumped ship shortly after, only to be briefly replaced
by future Culture Club drummer Jon Moss before The Damned finally called it a
day in February 1978: a mere eighteen months on from their formation. A handful
of live outings with Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister on bass billed as The Doomed
tested the water for a comeback later in 1978. “After we split we did a couple
of gigs as the Doomed. We weren’t sure if people would like it or accept it
without Brian and the original line-up,” Rat reveals. “At this point we were
halfway into ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ with the songs and ideas.”

By now Captain Sensible had
reverted to guitar and with the addition of former Saints man Algy Ward on bass
the band played their first gig under The Damned moniker again in April 1978.
They signed to Chiswick Records and started working on their next album Machine
Gun Etiquette
. “The title was a quote from Carol Clerk, the Sounds
journalist: ‘They played their set with the etiquette of a machine gun’,
remarks Captain. “We thought ‘Oh, that sounds quite nice’. We used to play so
fast in those days. Quite often when we came off, the club manager would point
back at the stage and say ‘Fuck off back on stage and do it all over again
otherwise you aren’t getting paid. You’re booked for an hour and you’re gonna
play an hour!’”.

Machine Gun Etiquette took everyone by
surprise and has been described by many as the greatest punk album of all time.
A sprawling, experimental opus, it takes in garage rock, buzzsaw punk,
fairground Farfisa organ, Coronation Street excerpts from
Albert Tatlock, a searing cover of the MC5’s  ‘Looking At You’ and a
confusing repeated outro of “Nibbled to death by an okapi”. The first single to
be lifted from ‘M.G.E.’ was the galloping ‘Love Song’ with its opening line of
“Hey man, what’s happening?”. It smashed into the Top 20 and gave the band a
legendary Top Of The Pops appearance. The Damned’s raucous
bovver boy, vampire and rocker image and the album cover (which was
photographed in New York) also gave the band a timeless look. Further singles
charted including the forlorn ‘I Just Can’t Be Happy Today’.

“In some ways it was kind of
scary writing the album without Brian, but it was also an incredible
opportunity,” Captain announces excitedly. “We all went off and tried to write
some songs. Any experimental idea anyone had, we went for. It drove the engineer
wild. Whacking the strings with drum sticks and ‘We found this thing in the
corner, what’s this?’, ‘Oh 10cc left that behind. It’s a mellotron, it’s got
tapes in it. We dragged that out and it had their lush vocal samples from ‘I’m
Not In Love’ on it. It became the inspiration for ‘I Just Can’t Be Happy
Today’. You can hear 10cc’s vocals on there. We experimented a lot on that
record. It was just a joy and The Clash were next door as well doing London
Calling
, so they would come in and do hand claps and backing vocals. We’d
go through and do the same for them. It was an extremely creative couple of
weeks”.

‘M.G.E.’ had re-established
The Damned as a viable chart act and fans and critics alike took to the band’s
experimental side. They were in for further surprises when the band entered
Rockfield Studios in the May of 1980 to record what would become their landmark
record, the double vinyl Black Album. Buoyed by the success
of Machine Gun Etiquette’s experimentation, there were no holds
barred as the Damned threw everything including the kitchen sink and shotguns
into the mix.

Released in November 1980,
the first album featured 11 tracks which would go on to be regular Damned fan
favourites like ‘Wait For The Blackout’, ‘Dr Jeykll And Mr Hyde’ and ‘Hit Or
Miss’. The second album featured Dave Vanian’s seventeen minute masterpiece
‘Curtain Call’. While tracks like ‘Drinking About My Baby’ were unmistakably
punk, the whole album had a psychedelic gothic undercurrent. The Damned were
branching out at rapid speed, encompassing new sounds and including everything
from ‘60s influences to baroque church sounds. The Black Album crashed
the Top 30 and is regarded as one of the greatest albums of the punk era. It
also set the Damned out as mavericks and goth pioneers.

GOTH

“I was given a broken guitar
with two strings on it and I wrote the intro to ‘Plan 9’ on Machine
Gun Etiquette
. When I did ‘Curtain Call’ I bought a harmonium and was
teaching myself how to play that”, remembers Dave. “The influences I had just
came out naturally. Horror literature and Victorian architecture or whatever,
it was just the world I lived in. I wouldn’t say that the Damned started the
goth movement but there are a lot of people that credit us for that. The
problem was that when I did songs in the early days, they weren’t as obvious
perhaps as when Bauhaus did ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’. I never wrote a song that
said ‘Bela Lugosi’ or ‘vampire’ or whatever in it. They were songs that if you
got it, you got it and if you didn’t, you didn’t. They were more open to
interpretation. I was just who I was and that came through. Weirdly enough, I
never for a moment thought there would be a whole goth movement with music and
people dressed up. I kind of regarded that as something I liked and didn’t see
that coming at all. I didn’t really relish it because it took things that I
really loved and did things to them that I wasn’t that interested in. I’ve
always had quite a lot of privacy in my life and that was a side of my life
that was nothing to do with what we did. I suppose you could certainly say that
I was the first of that era.”

1982 saw a move to Bronze
Records for their next long player, Strawberries. By now former
Eddie and the Hot Rods and UFO bassist Paul Gray had replaced Algy
Ward due to his excessive drinking.  With a unique scratch ‘n’
sniff cover featuring a pig scoffing strawberries and a 60’s influenced
psychedelic feel, the album entered the charts at number 15. Opening with the
Motörhead/Damned hybrid ‘Ignite’, songs like ‘Under The Floor Again’ and
‘Stranger On The Town’ were layered, melodic slices of dark pop and rock. While
the singles ‘Generals’ and ‘Dozen Girls’ didn’t chart, once again they would
become firm fan favourites.

“We made the album cover a
scratch ‘n’ sniff, which was a great idea,” affirms Rat. “Captain used to get
gobbed on all the time and thought the audience were horrible little gits. He
said ‘This is wasted on them, Rat, it’s like giving strawberries to a pig’.
Obviously that was going to be the next album title. The back cover was set up
but the front cover was taken accidentally as he was climbing over the gate to
get into the pen with the pig and at the time he said ‘I know I’ve got all
these photos which are great and I know you’re gonna fucking choose that one’.
It was the best one.”

Around this time Captain went
off and found the musical South Pacific, releasing the number one
single ‘Happy Talk’ and, despite not wanting to leave the Damned, was
eventually forced to go solo due to demand. As a swansong he played
on ‘Thanks For The Night’  which took The Damned into the charts
again, following which the band signed to MCA Records for the heavily
orchestrated Phantasmagoria (1985). Joining the ranks were
Bryn Merrick on bass and Roman Jugg on keyboards and guitar. It would chart at
number 11 on the back of the gothic genius of ‘Shadow Of Love’, ‘Grimly
Fiendish’ and ‘Is It A Dream’.  The Damned were now fully fledged
‘80s pop stars appearing on ‘Top Of The Pops’ and Saturday morning kids’ TV
shows but they still had another ace up their sleeve – their cover of the 1966
Barry Ryan baroque pop classic ‘Eloise’. It stormed to number 3 in the singles
charts and made the Damned household names again, only being kept off the top
spots by a novelty record by Su Pollard.

“Eloise’ was Dave’s idea,”
Rat declares. “I read a Sniffing Glue interview with him in 1976 and he said he
wanted to record it. That was when we first started. It depends on the
interpretation of the lyrics. We liked the idea of a schizophrenic transgender
‘Every night she’s there, I know she’s there, my Eloise’”.

In 1986 the Damned rang in
their tenth anniversary with their seventh studio album, Anything, their
last for MCA. Written in the pressured environment of the studio it spawned the
singles ‘Anything’ and a unique cover of Love’s ‘Alone Again Or’ that has gone
on to become a firm fan favourite.

GENTLEMAN’S RELISH 

As the band entered the 2000s
it was all change again as Rat Scabies departed with Captain returning to the
fold. With the addition of Dave’s wife (and former Gun Club/Sisters of Mercy)
bassist Patricia Morrison they returned with Grave Disorder in
2001. US skate punks The Offspring threw the band a lifeline for the album and
released it on their label, Nitro. “We were at this hotel in Burbank in America
and we did that album in one big kind of warehouse room,” Captain discloses.
“Everyone was looking at each other with headphones on and the engineer and
producer sitting there. Every day we went to Frank’s Diner and had eggs over
easy and hash browns. I’d never had an American breakfast before where they
keep topping your cup up with coffee and charge you once! I’d end up having
seven cups of coffee and be totally wired by the time I got to the studio. I’d
be pacing around. I’m insufferable in the studio anyway so I was probably even
worse”.

Another seven years would
pass until the next Damned album, So, Who’s Paranoid in
2008, and an even longer gap of a decade followed when the band decamped to New
York with legendary Thin Lizzy/T. Rex producer Tony Visconti for 2018’s Evil
Spirits
.

Sounding reinvigorated, the
resulting record was the Damned’s highest chart placement, hitting the number 7
spot. A fantastically-orchestrated piece, with Dave Vanian’s vocals scaling new
heights all over the album from falsetto to growls, and Captain Sensible’s
guitar solos soaring over the arrangements, all propelled along by the rumbling
bass runs of the returning Paul Gray, Evil Spirits is the
Damned in the 21st century showing any chart rock band out
there how it should be done: simply majestic-sounding in every way. “It was
very intense work because we were putting in easily a month’s worth of work in
nine days,” says Dave. “Visconti was more of a quiet individual who sits back
and then opens his mouth and makes total sense with what he says. It was a joy
to work with him. We had a job to do and we got on with it. It was a very
pleasurable experience. There’s a lot of very high backing vocals that we did
together and only Tony and I could actually reach the notes. He’s on a lot of
the backing vocals, all the high-pitched vocals that sound like a lady wailing
away or something, it’s not, it’s Tony!”

Who would have thought chaos
kings The Damned would still be around in 2019, 43 years into their career,
still defiantly independent, still masters of their own domain? “It’d been ten
years since the last album. That’s ridiculous isn’t it?” Dave exclaims: “You
think about 1977 and they’d be saying ‘Have you made an album?’, ‘Yeah, we made
one a couple of months ago’. ‘Well, you need to make a new one’. For us it’s
very important to keep pushing forward. It’s what drives me on. I always find
it a bit soul-destroying thinking that I’d spend years making the same music.”

Designer Phil
Smee 
was chosen to create the gothic artwork. Smee has worked
with the band numerous times throughout their long-lasting career, as well as
creating legendary designs for Motörhead, Elton John and Madness, amongst many
others. Smee commented: “I loved working with the band back in the 80’s
and I like to think we came up with some iconic designs. Certainly, I see the
many Damned logos I came up with still used on t-shirts to this day. I’ve not
cut corners with this new album, even setting all the sleeve copy by hand,
which took me back to ‘The Black Album’ which I hand-lettered with a shaky pen.
The Damned are a totally unique band, I’ve always loved everything they’ve
done. I still get excited about every design project that comes along, but I
was particularly pleased to be asked to work on The Damned’s ‘Black is the
Night’ album.”

TRACKLISTING:

Love Song

Wait For The Blackout

Generals

I Just Can’t Be Happy Today

Bad Time For Bonzo

Democracy?

White Rabbit

Anti-Pope

Ignite

Melody Lee

Smash It Up Pt 1 & 2

New Rose

Machine Gun Etiquette

Neat Neat Neat

Stretcher Case Baby (produced
by Shel Talmy)

Sick Of Being Sick (produced
by Shel Talmy))

Born To Kill

Rabid (Over You)

Problem Child

1 Of The 2

So Messed Up

Disco Man

Fan Club

Suicide

Eloise

Plan 9 Channel 7

Grimly Fiendish

 The Shadow Of Love

.The History Of The World
(Part 1)

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Streets Of Dreams

Curtain Call

Alone Again Or

Lively Arts

Standing On The Edge Of
Tomorrow

Stranger On The Town

Fun Factory (previously
deleted feat. Robert Fripp)

Under The Floor Again

Black Is The Night (single
out October 11)

Follow The Damned at:

www.officialdamned.com

twitter.com/@damnedtwits

YouTube

The Damned are:

David Vanian – Vocals

Captain Sensible – Guitar

Monty Oxy Moron – Keyboard

Pinch – Drums

Paul Gray – Bass

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