Tuesday 13 February 2018


Well, we all knew it had to happen eventually. With a 40th anniversary behind them and ten years since their last album, something – anything – had to happen sometime to break the creative impasse. And so, here we are – the Damned have a new album, and a new line-up. Finally!

Of course, few of the acts created from the white heat of punk have had a history quite so convoluted as the Damned. This was an act that after scoring the first UK punk single, the first UK punk album and the first UK punk tour of the USA began to splinter almost immediately, achieving the minor feat of reforming a mere 3 years after their debut and without their main songwriter. Since then there have been a revolving door of bassists, a fistful of guitarists, a dozen record labels, several hits, reformations, splits, farewell tours, lawsuits, punch-ups and assorted farces all of which combine to make the Damned as tenuous a history as any hammy vampire franchise. They may be reduced to dust by sunlight one minute, then with a splurge of bat vomit they are back the next. The Damned ultimately became an almost reassuring benchmark for volatility, always likely to stir up trouble or eject a new record when least expected.

All that changed over the past 20 years. Since the departure of Damned drummer and de-facto boss Rat Scabies in 1996 and the return of erstwhile guitarist and former pop star Captain Sensible the band eventually settled into something approaching stability; a new album in 2001 ('Grave Disorder'), then a new album in 2008 ('So, Who's Paranoid?'), lots of touring, no major bust-ups or rows, and the longest-serving line-up the band have ever had. But stability was never the Damned's M.O – what were the band going to do next? Were they going to do anything at all? As the band appeared to be on an endless cycle of tour-festival-tour, and with no material on their setlist that saw daylight after 1986, it appeared that stability was beginning to mean stasis.

Until, that is, their 40th anniversary extravaganza at the Albert Hall in 2016 finally saw the band 'believe the impossible' once more, with their biggest and most ambitious gig in decades. The result, an unqualified triumph, was the spark which lit the lightbulb over the bands collective head. Could the band make a new album? Could the band capitalise on their legacy and re-energised fanbase?

And last year we finally got the answer. Out went longtime bassist Stu West, in came Damned alumni Paul Gray who had graced their most creative period; in came Tony Visconti as producer; in came a new record label and a Pledge campaign to fund the album; and off the band went to New York (yes, really) to cut a record. Cue the release of the first new Damned song in a decade, 'Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow', a swirling piece of '60s pop-psychedelia which even came with an actual music video, and a full UK tour ahead of a new album 'Evil Spirits'. All of which, we have to admit, was Damned unlikely even just a couple of years ago.

So, you know the drill. Grab a brandy, get your finest cloak on and feast yourselves on what promises to an increasingly rare experience – a new Damned album and Damned tour. And with the band in fine form it promises to be an experience not to be missed, or possibly even repeated.

This could be the last time, after all....

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