Real talk? The Damned are the greatest punk band to come out of the United Kingdom. Yes, the Sex Pistols got the notoriety while the Clash got the mainstream success. But the Damned? They’re still writing chapters in punk-rock history. For those of you unaware (it’s cool, just don’t parade that), this APTV video shows you the records to start with.
The Damned had a bunch of “firsts” under their belt. They were the first U.K. punk band to release a single. That single, “New Rose,” has been covered by bands as diverse as weird gothic post-punks and gargantuan rock royalty. Their 1977 debut, Damned Damned Damned, is considered the first British punk album. (Spoiler alert: It’s on here. If you’ve heard it, you know why.) But wait, there’s more! They beat all of their fellow poonks to make it over the ocean to tour America. And then they were the first to break up. And reform.
Unlike many of the bands in that original Class Of ’77 scene, the Damned could play their asses off. And they weren’t afraid to jump around genres. They could tear it up in a ’70s Detroit rock style or dip their toes in prog-rock pretension. The Damned in all their incarnations have never sacrificed their vision for mere energy. Did we mention the great taste in punk pseudonyms? Dave Vanian (Dave Letts), Captain Sensible (Ray Burns), Rat Scabies (Chris Millar) are all wonderful and cool AF.
Fortunately, the Damned are still with us. After a successful U.S. run in 2017, longtime vets Vanian and Sensible, bassist Paul Gray and keyboardist Monty OxyMoron recorded the 11th Damned album, Evil Spirits. It’s a sophisticated charge through rock history that’s completely appropriate of these gentlemen’s stature. The road they took to get to that point is loud, unforgettable and eternal. The records we’ve picked are all the evidence you need. Enjoy. At full volume, please.