Sunday, November 1, 2015
the black album
The Damned turned twisted nerve into therapy through dark and lively arts in the theatreland of this gothic vendetta. They had been the first British punk band to release a single ("New Rose" in 1976). the first to release an album (Damned Damned Damned in 1977), the first to break up (after the critical dismissal of their second album Music for Pleasure in 1977), and the first to reunite (with Machine Gun Etiquette in 1979).
Their fourth album was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth as well as Wales Shepperton Studios in Shepperton. Each of their previous albums were created with a different producer. The Damned produced the new sessions themselves (credited as The Kings of Reverb) with "The History of the World (Part 1)" listed as "overproduced by Hans Zimmer". 'The Black Album' features Dave Vanian on vocals; Captain Sensible on electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards and vocals, and lead vocals on "Silly Kids Games"; Paul Gray on bass; and Rat Scabies on drums, as well as guitar on "Drinking About My Baby".
'The Black Album' hit number twenty-nine on the UK album chart.
Captain Sensible says: "In three years since New Rose kick started the UK punk scene we'd come a long way as songwriters...We had such good ideas...We were all writing and when we brought our demos to the table Mr Vanian's had taken a sudden lurch to somewhere altogether darker. His imagination was working overtime and it became a real pleasure to help arrange the pieces when we started the sessions at Rockfield studios in Wales. A total creative workout for all involved, and we had some fun with the locals too when we took the odd break and popped down the pub. Some of them thought Dracula was in town..... especially when Dave borrowed the horse and went galloping around the place with his cape flowing behind him...We used to share [songwriting]. Yeah, we shared Machine Gun Etiquette, Black Album, good fun records to work on. We had a great time recording 'em, complete lunacy, you know, no sleep and stuff like that."
Gray considers: "I think the band were at a creative peak then, certainly the ideas were unstoppable … we could easily have made a triple album with no loss of quality control. It was a magical time, despite the odd hiccup. Outside of our fans, I think The Damned has always been somewhat overlooked in favour of some of the other bands under the punk banner. I can’t think of many journalists in that period, outside of Carol Clerk, bless her, that would give us the time of day or actually listened to what we were doing. Perhaps it’s because we didn’t take ourselves that seriously, although we worked fucking hard in the studio – round the clock in fact, much to the chagrin of our engineer Hugh Jones. I love both those albums dearly and still play them regularly. In a way, they’re timeless."
Vanian reveals: "Our Black Album was supposed to be the closest to the White Album I suppose that The Beatles did, 'cause it was experimental and stuff, you know with Curtain Call and things like that...It was said that The Beatles had their White Album, we had our Black Album. The sleeve isn't related to The Beatles in any way...We used to work all night, Rat used to go in during the day."
Scabies says: "Of course it was to do with The Beatles, I was so sick about the debates of what we should have on the front of it. I said: 'put the thing in a plain black sleeve and we'll have a go at The Beatles and The White Album".
Sensible relates: "I think calling it The Black Album was a bit of a giveaway. Its very much a dark record, the lyrics are kind of different from what we’d done previously ya know. When we came to the demo studio to demo what was to become The Black Album, It wasn’t gonna be called The Black Album then. I noticed that Daves songwriting had moved on, to a different level, to a different place, a dark place. I knew it was going to be a more interesting album. He was going places and he took us with him, so I suppose it was a proto – Goth album when you think about it. It’s Goth. We didn’t set out to do that, but that’s just the way he is. He did have a hearse, he was a grave digger...At the time that we made The Black Album, there was a kind of, well Punk was going through a new wave, there was a new wave of Punk bands forming in Britain. It was all kinds of studded jackets, Mohicans, and it like became a look that it hadn’t been. You see, The Stranglers never looked like The Sex Pistols, and the Pistols didn’t look like The Clash and they never looked like The Damned either, we all had our individual looks. But after that, by the time we recorded The Black Album, there was such a thing as the “Punk look”. Some journalists were criticizing The Damned cos we didn’t have the “Punk look” which I thought was kind of insane really! Why should we start wearing what everyone says what they think Punk should be?! I’ve always thought Punk was kind of very much a working class thing for me. I was destined to be cannon fodder, I didn’t do much at school and I wasn’t expected to do much with my employment prospects. I made the very most of myself, and I think that’s Punk Rock. You should really try to do something as creative as possible and make something special of yourself, not copy some bastards opinion of what clothes you should wear, there’s no way I’d sign up for that! So there was a kind of backlash against The Damned when we put out The Black Album by the kind of people putting forth this homogenized view of Punk rock in Britain."
"The History of the World (Part 1)"
"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"
"Drinking About My Baby"
"Wait for the Blackout"
'The Black Album'
All songs written by Rat Scabies/Captain Sensible/Paul Gray/Dave Vanian except * by Scabies/Sensible/Gray/Vanian/Billy Karloff, ** by Scabies/Sensible/Gray/Vanian/Giovanni Dadomo.
"Wait for the Blackout" – 3:57
"Lively Arts" – 2:59
"Silly Kids Games" – 2:35
"Drinking About My Baby" – 3:04
"Twisted Nerve" – 4:39
"Hit or Miss" – 2:37
"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" – 4:35
"Sick of This and That" – 1:50
"The History of the World (Part 1)" – 3:45
"13th Floor Vendetta" – 5:05
"Therapy" – 6:12
"Curtain Call" – 17:13
"Love Song" [Live] – 2:10
"Second Time Around" [Live] – 1:46
"Smash It Up (Parts 1 & 2)" [Live] – 4:24
"New Rose" [Live] – 1:49
"I Just Can't Be Happy Today" [Live] – 3:55
"Plan 9 Channel 7" [Live] – 5:12
"White Rabbit" - 3:00
"Rabid (Over You)" – 3:44
"Seagulls" - 2:36
"The History of the World (Part 1)" [Single Version] – 3:48
"I Believe the Impossible" - 2:54
"Sugar and Spite" - 1:30
"There Ain't No Sanity Clause" - 2:29
"Looking At You" [Live] - 5:51
"White Rabbit" [Extended Version - Original Mix] - 5:24