The Damned in concert this weekend. Almost impossible to imagine, but it will be 40 years since this concert was broadcast, and 41 years since The Damned issued their landmark debut single, New Rose and the era of Punk was well underway.
There have been disputes – arguments and heated discussions over who actually got Punk rolling. Much has been attributed to The Sex Pistols, and certainly under the tutelage of Malcolm McLaren, grabbed headlines and controversy and clearly made the bigger initial impression. However, it should be noted that New Rose predates Anarchy In The U.K. by several weeks. New Rose was released on October 26, 1976 while Anarchy In The UK was issued a month later to the day, on November 26, 1976.
The Damned went about their business, and legions of fans followed – The Sex Pistols were busy heaping outrage, getting kicked off labels and creating a fashion statement that became emulated all over the UK and the world.
So who got there first? Depending on who you talk to, it was either. I will say, for my two cents, that I was working in London when both singles were released, and New Rose created the bigger, more jaw-dropping impression on me than Anarchy did. I couldn’t hear New Rose enough, and wore out the first pressing within a few weeks of buying it at Vinyl Solution. There was just something missing from Anarchy and I couldn’t put my finger on it.
All that said, here was what represented a new genre in the making. It was pure manic energy and it took a lot of people by surprise, particularly those who opted for softer, mellower West-Coast oriented rock or Arena Rock along the lines of AC/DC. It took American audiences a while to warm to this new music, the spiky hair, the safety pins, the ripped clothes – and there was a goodly amount of resistance to it when the flood of discs and new bands popped up. We had The Ramones, but they were different in a way – Punk was something else. And until bands like The Clash surfaced, The Damned as well as The Sex Pistols were the wave of the future.
So this concert featuring The Damned as last-minute replacements comes from May of 1977; forty years ago next month. The Damned are still with us, still recording, still touring and still reminding us they represented “the next big thing” and were, for all intents and purposes, the first ones to do it.
Crank it up and enjoy the hell out of it. New Rose still makes my hair stand up.