The Damned – in session for John Peel – Recorded November 30, 1976 – Broadcast December 10 – BBC Radio 1 –
The Damned to end the week. Their first session for John Peel, recorded on November 30, 1976 and aired on December 10th.
If memory serves, I heard New Rose by The Damned weeks before I heard Anarchy In The UK by The Sex Pistols. Which band made a bigger impression? Hands down, The Damned. It was a record I couldn’t get enough of – and coming from an environment that was fairly drenched in West Coast/laid-back or Arena Rock – where things had taken a decidedly pretentious turn and album productions were becoming increasingly more bloated and grandiose – or the laid back was bordering on the comatose, The Damned were a much-needed kick in the ass.
Not everyone felt the same way though – in fact, after my sojourn to London in 1976, coming back loaded down with all these new and interesting records – I was met with instant hostility and a goodly amount of derision for having lost my sense of taste and certainly my hearing. When I presented a Disc Jockey friend with an EMI promo copy of Anarchy In The UK, it was promptly snapped in half on the air, and my soon-to-become former friend vowed it would never be heard again. Pretty much the same for The Damned (although I vice-grip guarded my solitary copy and no one could touch it). The word all over L.A. was this new music from the UK was crap and nobody would be interested in it.
Punk was exploding in the UK – I saw it and could vouch for it. Los Angeles, the West Coast in General and most of America wouldn’t warm up to it for many months, having dipped toes in The Ramones, but this first generation of Punk Rock from the UK was pretty much looked at with dread. However, lest you think that was the universal opinion, you’d be dead wrong – because there were people who were listening, who had friends who knew people who sent records over, and Punk began to make inroads – first as a purely underground fringe genre and then, as bands started developing their own takes on Punk, the sub-genre started making its presence known and eventually the DIY school of getting your message across was spreading all over.
So this session from The Damned is important on a lot of levels – it’s the first session done for John Peel – they have, by many if not all accounts, been designated the first of the initial Punk bands to arrive on the scene. New Rose has been regarded as one of the best records of all time by numerous journalists, including many who held their noses while listening to it the first time around. How times changed.
The Damned represented a blast of energy that was impossible to ignore – it shook the foundations of complacency and make Rock the upstart, outcast, loud and snotty art form it had always been – and for that, they will always be held in the highest regard.
No doubt, almost nobody in the U.S. heard this first Peel session – so this one may be new to you. Either way, it’s imperative you crank this one up and pretend it’s 1976 all over again.