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fromheadtoheart flag England - Full Moon 247 - 10/16/16

From head to heart
The Damned's New Rose

Following our retroscope series going on for several years, here we go again. Yes, for one more year! Here's Speakers' corner's cousin; From head to heart. Luna Kafé's focused eye on great events, fantastic happenings, absolute milestones, or other curious incidents from the historic shelves'n'vaults of pop'n'rock. Blowing our ears and our head, punching our chest and shaking our heart, or simply tapping our shoulder. Making us go sentimental, but not slaphappy. This moonth we revisit a 40-year-old 7" - way back to the year punk broke. Back to the very first UK punk release, from a band we can find links (and sub-links) to numerous bands and artists such as The Beatles, Nick Lowe, Pink Floyd's Nick Mason, the Buggles, The Clash, Lemmy, Chrissie Hynde, The Lords of the New Church, Stan Ridgway, That Petrol Emotion, The Saints, James, Kitchens of Distinction, The Charlatans, Pale Saints, Dodgy, Kate Bush, The Beautiful South, Prefab Sprout, and many, many, many, many more. I missed out when the band played Oslo in August this year - their first visit in 29 (!) years. Hello, England's rose!

coverpic The Damned
New Rose b/w Help!
Stiff Records

The first real punk single in Britain, and presumably all of Europe, was released on 22. October 1976, 40 years ago next week. The Damned was formed in London earlier the same year and the original line-up included Brian James (guitar), Dave Vanian (vocals), Captain Sensible (bass) and Rat Scabies (drums). The three latter came from Masters Of The Backside that had also included music journalist Chrissie Hynde, later leading lady of The Pretenders. Brian James had been a member of London SS that also included Mick Jones (later of The Clash), Tony James (no relation, later of Chelsea and Generation X along with Billy Idol, Sigue Sigue Sputnik and The Sisters Of Mercy) and Norwegian drummer Geir Waade (later of The Boys for a little while and Wreckless Eric's backing band). The Damned's debut gig was as support act for Sex Pistols at London's 100 Club on 6. July.

"New Rose", written by Brian James and produced by Nick Lowe, has all the assets of a punk classic, bar one. It's fast and rough and noisy, but lacks the anger and fury. The lyrics indicate we're dealing with a happy love song...! The song might be a bit too long as well, almost 3 minutes. A classic all the same. It was the third single to be released on the new pub-rock and punky label Stiff Records - the one with the 'Fuck art, let's dance! slogan a little later on and the single was a reasonable success.

Is she really going out with him?
Ah!

I got a feeling inside of me
It's kind of strange like a stormy sea
I don't know why, I don't know why
I guess these things have got to be

I gotta new rose, I got it good
Guess I knew that I always would
I can't stop to mess around
I got a brand new rose in town

See the sun, see the sun, it shines
Don't get too close or it'll burn your eyes
Don't you run away that way
You can come back another day

I got a new rose, I got it good
Guess I knew that I always would
I can't stop to mess around
I got a brand new rose in town

I never thought this could happen to me
I feel strange, why should it be?
I don't deserve somebody this great, oh, oh
I'd better go or it'll be too late

Ah! I got a feeling inside of me
It's kind of strange like a stormy sea
I don't know why, I don't know why
I guess these things have got to be

I got a new rose, I got her good
Guess I knew that I always would
I can't stop to mess around
I got a brand new rose in town, uh

Oh!
Na-na-no!

The line at the start of the song 'Is she really going out with him?' was taken from the starting line of "The Leader Of The Pack", the hit by The Shangri-Las from 1964. Two years after "New Rose", it was the title of Joe Jackson's debut single. The flip side of The Damned's debut was a fast version of "Help!" by The Beatles, clocking in at 1 minute and 42 seconds. Two historical links back to the 1960s there and no overt indication that the second Year Zero in rock was about to start. Anyways, "Help!" was not the most credible song a young and aspiring punk combo ought to play. But The Damned never took their music as serious as the other pioneers. Check out the front cover of their debut album Damned Damned and you'll see what I mean. Btw. this was the first punk album in the UK and Europe, as well, released in February 1977. By then the revolution was set rolling. Sex Pistol's debut single "Anarchy In The UK" was originally released by EMI in November. Buzzcock's debut Spiral Scratch EP on the independent New Hormones label, popped up in late January 1977. We had to wait to mid-March before the more politically correct The Clash had their first single "White Riot" ready.

The second Damned album Music For Pleasure (November 1977) was produced by Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason. Hardly the right choice of a punk band at the time, though the band had initially wanted Floyd-founder and LSD victim Syd Barrett to do the job. When the album failed to attract the critics and record buying youth, The Damned was the first punk band to be dissolved, too. They were back with a revenge by late 1978 and has continued to this very day with fluctuating line-ups and a few more hiatuses. In the early 1980s the band was one of the pioneers of the burgeoning goth rock movement. I fondly remember the LP Strawberries from 1982 depicting a pig with a strawberry on its head on the front cover and a lyric insert that smelled of, yes, strawberries. The twinkles in the eye were still never far away. At this time Captain Sensible's parallel solo career had really taken off. He scored a no. 1 hit that year with "Happy Talk", taken from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific. Can you believe it? In fact I think it was the fastest selling single ever in Britain at the time. A little later he left the band for a while but re-joined in 1986, in time for the band's 10 years anniversary. And here we are 30 years further down the road. Dave Vanian and the Captain are still on board. The band released their 11th studio album Nasty earlier this year. Not bad, not bad at all!

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