Selling ‘rebellion’: 1977 TV segment on The Damned bemoans the commercialization of punk
08:47 am


The Damned

I love watching old commentary on punk rock as a social phenomenon, especially in the staid, square format of conventional TV news. When they get it wrong, it’s usually an attempt at sensationalism, moralist hysteria or some such “kids these days” sentiment. Old people panicking (or attempting to incite panic) about youth culture is almost always amusing in retrospect.

But it’s even more of a trip when they get it right.

This spot isn’t a probing exposé on The Damned (nor does it have the best visual quality, sorry), but the segment actually gives a fairly astute assessment of punk rock as an exploitable business opportunity. In addition to giving a decent description of punk’s appeal to working-class British kids, the piece is genuinely insightful about the relationships between capitalism, identity, youth, and “authenticity.” You can actually hear concern in the narrator’s oh-so-sober-and-respectable tone as he bemoans that “it is now possible to buy a gold safety pin for up to $100 to go with a hand-ripped t-shirt, that sells for $16.”

And those are 1977 dollars, folks! It stinks that the vid cuts out early, because it’s honestly kind of heartwarming to hear the narrator differentiate between fashion-plates and “true believers.” There’s a sweetness to this sort of mildly cynical anti-capitalist commentary; the idea that art shouldn’t have to be contaminated by profit motives is a noble one, and one that I still kind of believe in, after a few drinks. As absurd as it is, that Urban Outfitters jacket is nothing new. Art, rebellion, and youth culture get marketed as soon as the opportunistic catch a whiff, and all we can do is remember it’s the natural order of things, have a laugh, and try not to roll our eyes too hard.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The Clash jamming with The Damned in 1979

Wessex Sound Studios 2003.

The Clash and The Damned were both recording at the legendary Wessex Sound Studios in London when this video was shot.

The Damned were working on Machine Gun Etiquette while The Clash were doing the same for London Calling.

The clip captures Captain Sensible, Rat Scabies, Joe Strummer, Topper Headon, Paul Simonon, Mick Jones and producer Guy Stevens enjoying themselves during some downtime.

I believe the footage of Captain Sensible and Rat Scabies in the beginning of the video was shot by Mick Jones.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Ladies & Gentlemen, How Do?: Documentary on The Damned in The Works

The best band that emerged out of the fertile soil of the UK punk movement in the 1970’s, is, for my money, The Damned. Sure, I love the Pistols, but they imploded as quickly as they emerged. The Clash were good but got bloated by the end. (Plus, I am forever bitter about having “Car Jamming” forced on me at a formative age. Really, guys?) But The Damned have never let us down. From their debut, Damned Damned Damned to the psychedelic rock infused masterpiece of their 2008 album, So, Who’s Paranoid, they have never sold out, gotten stodgy or taken the easy way out. With each album, you can hear a band that started off strong only get progressively better and more bold. Simply put, The Damned is one of the greatest bands ever and the time has finally come for their story and music to be embraced in documentary film mode.

Wes Orshoski, who was one-half of the directing team behind 2010’s excellent documentary, Lemmy, which coincidentally (or not) featured Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible from The Damned, has started work on the as-of-now untitled film project. As a longtime fan, this is extremely exciting and if it’s at least as good as Lemmy, then this is truly going to be a long overdue treat.

For more information, you can read about this on The Damned’s Official Site.


Posted by Heather Drain | Leave a comment
The Damned performing at Fun Fun Fun Fest and a chat with Capt. Sensible
09:58 pm


The Damned
Fun Fun Fun Fest
Jack from Dallas

This past weekend at Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin I met up with Captain Sensible of The Damned for a brief chat followed by filming some of their 35th anniversary show at the festival.

Earlier in the day members of The Damned gathered at the Waterloo Records’ tent to meet their fans. Lead singer Dave Vanian didn’t show up so in a sly bit of punk theater Captain Sensible discreetly grabbed a Vanian look-a-like out of the line of fans and had him fill in for the band’s elusive front-man. Of the hundred or so people who showed up for autographs, only a handful caught on to the ruse. I interviewed the impostor, Jake from Dallas (who was born around the time the band was formed), and as you can see in the video below, he was thrilled to have been Damned for a day.

So, here it is: a bit of Sensible,The Damned performing three of their legendary punk anthems and some faux-Vanian.

Dave Vanian − vocals
Captain Sensible − guitar
Monty Oxy Moron − keyboards
Stu West − bass
Pinch - drums

Shot with my awesomely groovy Sony HDR-XR500.


Damned for a day.

An interview with Jake from Dallas.
(In case you’re wondering, that’s M83 playing live in the background.)

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘1-2 FU’: A personal odyssey through British Punk Rock

I first met Peter Boyd Maclean about twenty years ago, when he was about 12, or so it seemed, as he was precociously young and at the same time incredibly wise, and most annoyingly Talented with a capital ‘T’. He had arrived from the ether to work at the Beeb as a top director / producer, having made a splash on that TV earthquake known as Network 7. He was funny, witty and always made work fun. I recall at the time Peter had just “Shot the shit” out of some island to placate his over-zealous exec, who repeatedly demanded “Pictures! Coverage! More pictures! More coverage!” every 10 minutes by ‘phone, fax and pigeon post. Since then m’colleague, has gone on to greater achievements and awards and hairstyles of interesting description.

He also made this rather super documentary on Punk, 1-2 FU with Jonathan Ross taking a personal odyssey through the music of his youth. It’s quirky, orignal, and has an impressive line-up of the punk bands who most effected the TV showman, including Steven Severin, Ari Up, The Damned, Adam Ant, etc. Like the best of Peter’s work, F-U 12 takes an original approach to a subject, rather than the usually biblical reverence of “In the beginning was Punk and the Punk was with…” etc. Of particular note here, is Jonathan’s bus tour of London’s punk clubs, and his rendition (as in torture) of “Anarchy in the U.K.”

Now here’s more of the same from the official blurb:

1-2 FU

Jonathan Ross presents the ‘Memoirs of a Middle-Aged Punk’ in this authored documentary charting the rise and demise of the most nihilistic movement in the history of British music.

Jonathan delivers a fast and furious rant confessing his passion for punk and the lasting effect it’s had on everything, from music and fashion to art and television.

As a forty-something whose life has been defined by punk and all the anarchy it stood for, Jonathan sets out to discover if punk really changed the world or was it all overblown hype?

To fully explore the legacy of punk, Jonathan gets a Mohican and grabs Captain Sensible to join him as he transports an open-top bus full of punks on a tour around London’s most notorious punk hotspots.

Finally, it’s Jonathan Ross as you’ve never seen him before when he fulfils his ultimate punk fantasy performing with Vic Reeves as The Fat Punks for one night only.



Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment