Sound Advice: The Damned

Friday • Bogart’s

Sep 9, 2015 at 9:06 am

What do The Pretenders, Pink Floyd, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Motörhead, Culture Club, T. Rex, Nick Lowe, Naz Nomad and the Nightmares, Goth Rock, The Lords of the New Church, The Sisters of Mercy, Miami Vice, The Young Ones, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones have in common? They all have a one-degree-of-separation connection to The Damned, one of Great Britain’s most renowned and durable Punk bands, touring this year on the eve of its almost inconceivable 40th anniversary.

For anyone who would doubt the legitimacy of The Damned’s place in Punk history, the group’s early credentials speak for themselves. The Damned’s “New Rose,” released in ’76, was the first ever Punk single by a U.K. band, coming out weeks before The Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the U.K.” The band’s first album, Damned Damned Damned, was also the first full-length U.K. Punk album. To cap things off, founding drummer Rat Scabies is widely credited with starting the Punk ritual of performers and audiences exchanging air-born spit missiles.

While The Damned has experienced nearly two dozen personnel shifts, broken up or gone on hiatus numerous times, morphed from pure Punk into a more Gothic Rock direction and hasn’t added a album of new material to its massive discography since So, Who’s Paranoid? in 2008, the current lineup (featuring founding members Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible) has been stable and active for over a decade.

All of this and more is illuminated in Wes Orshoski’s compelling 2015 documentary, The Damned: Don’t You Wish We Were Dead. Among other tidbits, Orshoski (whose last Rock doc was Lemmy, an examination of the Hawkwind/ Motörhead bassist, who once played in the one-off Les Punks with Vanian, Scabies and Sensible) alleges and all but proves that The Damned, being the first British Punk band to tour America, essentially sowed the genre’s seeds with shows at New York City’s CBGB and L.A.’s Starwood clubs.

If you’re looking for Punk’s original DNA strand, you don’t need Maury Povich to do the lab work. The Damned is the father and we are all its inglorious Punk bastards.