“I got a feeling inside of me
It’s kind of strange like a stormy sea.”
I’ve always felt like I was born at the wrong time. I wasn’t made for ’86 onwards. I was made for at least a decade before, but that’s only if you have the misfortune of looking through the band shirts I own and the records on my shelves. I think my head is there also, it’s never where it is probably meant to be. Let’s go back 40 years.
22nd October 1976, The Damned released their first 7” single- New Rose. The B-side was a cover of Help! By The Beatles. The Damned very quickly became one of the most important and easily, one of the best Punk bands to have ever formed. For me, I loved how strange they were and how their sound was unlike anything I had heard before. I can’t remember how old I was or where I was when I first listened to them, but I’m pretty sure it was my stepdad that got me into them. I love the video to New Rose. I love the close ups of Dave Vanian’s face and his black lipstick. He looked like a handsome Dracula who not much wanted blood but the souls of those who were going to give themselves over to The Damned.
I love the nod to Leader of the Pack by The Shangri-Las in the intro followed by the battle cry drumming which is brought together with a collective yelp. This iconic intro to New Rose is one of the best I’ve ever heard and any time you hear it, you cannot help but join in. It’s such an important song for Punk. They’re such an important band, and they embodied frustrations in their own way and unleashed it so well on their first record. Their first record for me, is one of the best Punk records ever made. It’s got this raw sound flowing through it that isn’t found in a lot of the Punk records that came out around that time. The Damned took it further. They made it creepy, sinister but approachable. Nothing about them was vulgar or obnoxious (by no means am I saying any of the other bands were) but they could still shock someone’s parents if they weren’t of the liberal kind. The Damned were and are brilliant misfits who gave you a sound to belong to. What I found in their debut record is something I hadn’t found elsewhere before and New Rose started all of that.
Much like the Dead Boys, The Damned were “young, loud and snotty.” The absolute best way to be, especially for a rowdy Punk band. New Rose has been labelled as the UK’s first Punk single and it immediately set a standard that only a few could reach. Whatever The Damned intended to do with New Rose, I am pretty sure they have done. They influenced a wealth of bands and I’m fairly sure that they still do. I play my copy of Damned Damned Damned on a daily basis. I put my record player on most mornings as I get ready for work and I always seem to reach for this one. There is something about it that smacks you in the particulars and gets you ready to get out the house. A month after New Rose was released, the Sex Pistols released Anarchy In The UK. Both bands have played such a vital role not just for what they did for Punk but for music in general. Rowdy in different ways, both demanded to be heard, again in their own way. Both bands were made to be played loud and 40 years on, we are finding ways and reasons to play them louder than before.
40 years have passed since New Rose was released on Stiff Records. A song that took pretty much only a day to record holds a legacy that not much can compare to. The Damned started something with New Rose that could never, and will never be finished.