Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Damned: Tales from the Damned

Pity the poor fool who's primary introduction to the Damned is the The Light at the End of the Tunnel. That compilation is, to use a currently meaningless word accurately, random, placing tracks like their '76 jackhammer punk classic "Neat Neat Neat" cheek-by-jowel with their 1986 cover of psych-pop classic, "Alone Again Or". Damned albums were hard to find in my time, so this album, which on my cassette copy even included the side-long experiment, "Curtain Call" was where I finally began.

Speaking of dog's breakfast comps, today's offering is actually the slightly narrower focused, Tales from the Damned. This album covers the late seventies through early eighties period of the Damned. Perhaps it's the side-effects of owning Light at the End of the Tunnel but I really believe that this is the band's apex. This rarities collection is anchored by the four songs from the creepy but poppy Friday the Thirteenth E.P. ("Disco Man" is the hit but "Billy Bad Breaks" is almost as good) and also includes a slew of rarities like a violin version of "Anti-Pope", a remix of "There Ain't No Sanity Clause", a live version of the MC5's "Looking at You"and MotorDamned (both bands playing at once!) on the fittingly named, "Over The Top". The album sells for $100 now, which is foolish because it completes any Damned collection.

MRML readers: What is the best period of the Damned's discography?

Tales from the Damned CD

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  1. Best period of The Damned? I can only go with the little I know and that would be "Machine Gun Etiquette" through to "Strawberries". "Damned, Damned, Damned" & "Music For Pleasure" both have more filler than "Sandinista!" and, honestly, I've never even tried to dig down into their goth era. "M.G.E.", "The Black Album" and "Strawberries" are all fantastic with "Black" being my favorite for some reason. Yes, I know "M.G.E." is better I just have a thing for...double albums I guess?

  2. I started with the Black Album (which did little for me, as did ) and then picked up Machine Gun Etiquette and Damned Damned Damned, so ranked by frequency of play:

    #1 Machine Gun Etiquette,
    #2 Music for Pleasure
    #3 Damned Damned Damned

    Perhaps I will track down Strawberries and give it another listen.

    @CPB, I urge you to reconsider Music for Pleasure, before you malign it with the kiss-of-death "Sandinista!" tag.

    It's one of those rare albums that was once relegated by many listeners into the boxes in the basement, only to be moved upstairs, and closer to the turntable upon re-listening.

    ...and you can spend hours staring at the cover, trying to figure out just who is supposed to be who...

  3. I love first era Damned,but when Captain took guitar,well,starts another story.Ithink the late seventies were the best,and I have a soft spot for I Believe The Impossible & Sanity Clause...

  4. Machine Gun Etiquette is one of the all time classic albums of the last 50 years ! Why ? it rocks from start to finish, no filler, it captures a moment in time like the great 60's LP's, 70's LP's etc. I just think it's a really rare thing to make an album that remains strong throughout the years and as a whole is a work of art. I'd be hard pressed to name anything current (2000-present) that comes close to accomplishing such greatness... my 2 cents :D

  5. Biopunk: With your encouragement I will give "Music For Pleasure" a closer listen (and yes, I agree, it does have an awesome cover). And my "Sandinista!" comment isn't as bad as you may think. I actually really enjoy that album pretty much up until the Children's "Opportunities" and the blubbery dub tracks that follow.

  6. CallPastorBob: True, I over emphasized the kiss-of-death tag re: "Sandinista!" (That dubious title I really should reserve for "Combat Rock"...)

    But check out this list of other album covers that Barney Bubbles has also contributed to.


  7. What a differcult question. I'll answer it simply by saying ALL OF IT! But then again I am slightly biased. Damned damned damned through to the Black Album is probably my favourite period at a push.

  8. I'll have to agree with callpastorbob. Just revisited "strawberries", and what a great album it is. Their latest, "so who's paranoid?" isn't half bad either!

  9. CPB
    Yup that's the exact period in question here and I'm right there with you. (I appreciate Damned, Damned, Damned but there's just too many, I'll call then sound-a-like songs, on that album.

    Strawberries sure starts off with a blast of great songs but then gets a bit routine. I should re-listen to Music for Pleasure one day, I do love "Problem Child".
    (Thanks for linking "Reasons to be Cheerful" that's on my Google Reader and it's just awe-inspiring!)

    There is a primal intensity to that early Damned that the later eras can't recapture.

    Great another vote for MGE, which I think stands head and shoulders above DDD (like you say no filler) there)and a lot of other classic punk albums.

    I really don't know the nineties stuff very well, is it good as well?

    "Who's Paranoid Now" is good and they were great when they played on Craig Ferguson's show.

  10. my fave Damned album is the original 'Best Of'(blue vinyl). every track is a classic, it covers multiple pre-goth albums,and it forced me to buy every previous, and future release i could find. i enjoyed the goth albums too, but missed Sensible , as i now miss Scabies(i get the impression he was a bully, but he can pound drums like no-one else..)
    Saying that,the Naz Nomad album is great too. i agree with the machine gun supporters,also the music for pleasure supporters- 'Idiot Box' how did Television piss Sensible off?, and which Television track is being purloined/aped for their guitar riff?...and how about that 'Young Ones' TV show with 'Nasty' Love it all (there is a certain 'curse',or 'eastenders' shambolic underdog quality that keeps my loyalty, they are great musicians,original mould-breakers who deserved more than they ge/ot.

  11. You definitely started with a more logical compilation that Id, with Light at the End of the Tunnel. I didn't know 'Idiot Box' was anti Television(the band) song I should like to know more now...
    That Young Ones Damned clip is amazing ("Only pop music can save us now".)

  12. I agree that Machine Gun Etiquette to Strawberries is the best period and I reckon you need ALL of it (get the deluxe editions containing non LP B-sides / EP tracks etc).

    Don't have much sympathy with the retrospective cheering for the second album (MFP) - I think Brian James completed his contribution to song-writing with one album (the first)- but the singles "Stretcher Case Baby", "Problem Child" and "Don't Cry Wolf" still stand up.

    The commercial Goth period albums ("Phantasmagoria" & "Anything" - 1985/86) are a bit laborious but I'd still get them to make a great one CD compilation (adding the non-LP cover single of "Eloise").

    The Rat written "Not of this Earth" (AKA "I'm Alright Jack and the Beanstalk" - 1996) is a bit 'ROCK' yet still good fun despite the limitations... but the last two albums "Grave Disorder" (2001) and "So, Who's Paranoid" (2008) are their best since the MGE to Strawberries (1979 - 83) period.

    So... get it all!


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