Follow TV Tropes


Music / The Damned (Band)

Go To
The current Damnednote 

Noise is for heroes (Heroes!!!)
Leave the music for zeroes (Zeroes!!!)
Noise, noise, noise is for heroes (Heroes!!!)
Aww yeah
"Noise, Noise, Noise"

Ladies and gentlemen, how do?

The Damned are one of the original British punk bands, although they have mutated beyond punk rock in the decades since they were first formed in 1976. The original line-up consisted of Dave Vanian (Vocals), Brian James (Guitar), Captain Sensible (Bass), and Rat Scabies (Drums). They released both the first British punk single ("New Rose") and British punk album (Damned Damned Damned) before becoming the first British punk band to tour The United States. Interestingly enough they were not the first British punk band to break up (that was the Sex Pistols; The Damned were second) but they were the first to re-form. The subsequent line up had Captain Sensible replacing the departed Brian James on guitar and whatever bassist they could find note  that week replacing the Captain on the bottom section. It was during this period that the band — which thanks to their vampyric crooning frontman Vanian had always dabbled in the dark — began to take on a more gothic sound, which helped give birth to the Gothic Rock subgenre.

The band broke up again in the early nineties but re-formed (again) in time for the new millennium and are still performing and occasionally releasing music. In November 2012, the band were awarded the Classic Rock Outstanding Contribution Award for services to Rock music, possibly the first award they ever got in their long career. In 2015 they were the subject of Wes Orshoski's documentary The Damned: Don't You Wish That We Were Dead.

In 2017 the band announced plans to record their next studio album. In September they also announced the departure of Stu West, who was replaced by former bassist Paul Gray. In October 2019 they announced the departure of Pinch. Their current lineup includes Vanian, Sensible, Gray and Monty Oxy Moron. New drummer has not been announced so far. Their current sound can be described as Gothic Neo-Psychedelic Punk Rock.

Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):

  • David Vanian - lead vocals, theremin (1976-present)
  • Raymond Burns (Captain Sensible) - bass, guitars (1976-1984, 1996-present)
  • Christopher Millar (Rat Scabies) - drums (1976–1996)
  • Brian James - guitars (1976-1978)
  • Laurence Burrow (Monty Oxy Moron) - keyboards (1996-present)
  • Andrew Pinching (Pinch) - drums (1999-2019)
  • Stu West - bass (2004-2017)
  • Paul Gray - bass (1980-1983, 1996, 2017-present)
  • Lemmy Kilmister - bass (1979)
  • Algy Ward - bass (1979)
  • Patricia Morrison - bass (1997-2004)
  • Roman Jugg - keyboards, guitars, backup vocals (1981-1989)
  • Bryn Merrick - bass (1983-1989)
  • Kris Dollimore - guitar (1993-1995)
  • Allan Lee Shaw - guitar (1993-1995)
  • Jason Harris (Moose) - bass (1993-1995)
  • Garrie Dreadful - drums (1996-1999)

Discography Of The Damned:

Albums of The Damned:

  • (1977) Damned Damned Damned
  • (1977) Music for Pleasure
  • (1979) Machine Gun Etiquette
  • (1980) The Black Album
  • (1981) Friday 13th EP
  • (1982) Strawberries
  • (1985) Phantasmagoria
  • (1986) Anything
  • (1995) Not of This Earth
  • (2001) Grave Disorder
  • (2008) So Who's Paranoid?
  • (2018) Evil Spirits

Singles of The Damned:

  • 1976
    • New Rose
  • 1977
    • Neat Neat Neat
    • Stretcher Case Baby
    • Problem Child
    • Don't Cry Wolf
  • 1979
    • Love Song
    • Smash It Up
    • I Just Can't Be Happy Today
  • 1980
    • White Rabbit
    • The History of the World Part 1
    • There Ain't No Sanity Clause
  • 1981
    • Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde
  • 1982
    • Wait for the Blackout
    • Lovely Money
    • Dozen Girls
    • Lively Arts
    • Generals
  • 1984
    • Thanks for the Night
  • 1985
    • Grimly Fiendish
    • The Shadow of Love
    • Is It a Dream?
  • 1986
    • Eloise
    • Anything
  • 1987
    • Gigolo
    • Alone Again Or
    • In Dulce Decorum
  • 1991
    • Fun Factory
    • Prokofiev
  • 1995
    • Shut It
  • 2005
    • Little Miss Disaster
  • 2010
    • A Nation Fit For Heroes
  • 2018
  • Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow

Compilations of The Damned:

  • (Too Many To List)

Tropes of The Damned:

  • Album Title Drop: "Dark Asteroid" features the line So, Who's Paranoid?.
  • Breakup Breakout: Sensible had a surprising bout of solo success in the 1980's (UK only), though he remained in the band until after Strawberries. He would eventually leave the band to focus on his solo work, but he returned in the late '90s.
  • Chick Magnet: "Dozen Girls."
    Tell me why / I don't know why / He's got a dozen girls
  • Christmas Songs: "There Ain't No Sanity Clause," with tongue firmly in cheek.
  • Classical Movie Vampire: Dave's look during the bands earlier years (roughly up until The Black Album) was obviously based on Bela Lugosi's portrayal of Dracula.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Sensible is an infamous looney. Vanian dressing as a vampire 24/7 made him come across as one as well.
  • Cover Version:
    • "Help!" by The Beatles as the B-Side for "New Rose."
    • "1970" by The Stooges (renamed "I Feel Alright") for Damned Damned Damned.
    • "Looking at You" by MC5 for Machine Gun Etiquette.
    • "Citadel" by The Rolling Stones for Friday 13th EP.
    • "Eloise" by Paul Ryan as a non-album single, later included on reissues of Phantasmagoria.
    • "Alone Again Or" by Love for Anything.
  • Dead Artists Are Better: The subject of "Would You Be So Hot (If You Weren't Dead?)."
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sensible snarks at anything, especially if he's in front of an audience.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The cover for Music for Pleasure, a colorful, abstract approximation of the band members.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: Inverted with "Dark Asteroid", which starts as a normal song that lasts roughly four minutes. Then the remaining ten minutes are instrumental.
  • Epic Rocking:
    • "Curtain Call" (17:13) from The Black Album.
    • "The Dog" (7:25) from Strawberries.
    • "Amen" (7:55) from Grave Disorder.
    • "Dark Asteroid" (14:02) from So, Who's Paranoid?.
  • Evil Laugh: Briefly in "Noise, Noise, Noise."
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Captain Sensible would occasional finish out early shows in the nude, as seen here.
  • Genre Mashup: From their third album Machine Gun Etiquette on, they've mixed Punk with classic Rock, Pop, Psychedelic Rock, Goth Rock, and even incidental film music.
  • Goth Rock: Their 80s output helped to develop Goth Rock, and their 1985 album Phantasmagoria was full-on Goth.
  • Harsh Vocals: Rat Scabies growls/screams the entire "Burglar".
  • I Am the Band: Downplayed example in that while Dave Vanian is the band's sole constant member, every line-up so far has featured Rat Scabies and/or Captain Sensible.
  • Iconic Outfit:
    • Vanian's vampire-ware.
    • Sensible's red beret and shades.
  • Instrumentals:
    • "Singalonga Scabies," instrumental version of "Stab Your Back" from Damned Damned Damned, titled due to it being Scabies' song in the first place.
    • "Smash It Up (Part 1)" from Machine Gun Etiquette, as well as the rarely found parts 3 and 4, and an instrumental version of part 2 titled "Singalonga Damned."
    • "Trojans" from Phantasmagoria.
    • "The Portrait" from Anything.
    • The "Mine is a Large One Landlord" B-side, except for one clip of sped-up spoken word.
  • Laughing Mad: "These Hands", being sung from the perspective of a Monster Clown. Topped off with:
  • Long Runner: They've performed and recorded since 1976 despite dissolving and reforming several times.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: Type 4. They've had several lineups, but the line-up of Vanian, Sensible, Monty Oxy Moron, Pinch, and Stu West lasted the longest at 13 years from Stu West joining up in 2004 to his departure in 2017. Monty has also been in the band since 1996 and Pinch since 1999.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Life Goes On" from Strawberries sounds awfully sad for such life-affirming lyrics.
  • The Masochism Tango: "Torture Me", a B-side to the "Dozen Girls" single.
  • Monster Clown: The narrator of "These Hands" from Machine Gun Etiquette.
    "These are the hands of a demented circus clown..."
  • New Sound Album: They have a few, most notably Machine Gun Etiquette, which incorporated Psychedelic Rock influences, and The Black Album, which moved in a more Post-Punk / Goth Rock direction, and Phantasmagoria, which was a full-on Goth Rock album. Anything backtracked a bit from this a bit, being similar to The Black Album in sound.
  • New Wave Music: Their poppier output lines up with New Wave, particularly Strawberries.
  • Non-Indicative Name: "Anti-Pope" is more about church-going hypocrites than the pope.
    "I got nothing against the church / Only the people who go there"
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Ours is a grave digger-turned-Punk singer-turned-Goth crooner.
  • Pastiche:
    • "Idiot Box" from Music for Pleasure is in the style of Protopunk band Television. It was written as a Take That! after Television refused to perform with The Damned due to their rambunctious reputation.
    • Friday 13th EP is largely in the style of '60s Rock and Psychedelic Rock.
  • Psychedelic Rock: An important influence on their sound which became more noticeable throughout the 80s.
  • Punk Rock: The first British Punk band to release a single, release an album, and tour the United States.
  • Recurring Riff: Strawberries features a particular drum beat, that appears at the end of some songs, such as "Dozen Girls" or "Bad Time for Bonzo". It's eventually used fulltime on "Don't Bother Me".
  • Revolving Door Band: They never went more than two albums without changing their bassist, with Stu West lasting longer than any other just by sheer years, and Vanian is the only member to maintain his position since the band's founding.
  • Sampling: "Curtain Call" incorporates a long-since-forgotten recording of a violin from Scheherazade.
  • Self-Deprecation: Often called themselves ugly in front of their audience.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "The Dog" is about Claudia from Interview With The Vampire.
    • "Smash It Up (Part 1)" is an instrumental tribute to the then-recently-deceased Marc Bolan.
    • "There Ain't No Sanity Clause" takes its title from a scene in the Marx Brothers film A Night at the Opera.
    • "Grimly Fiendish" is about 1960s-80s children's comic character Grimly Feendish - The Rottenest Crook in the World, with his name altered for copyright reasons.
    • "Melody Lee" was based on a comic strip in a British girl's magazine Captain Sensible and his then-girlfriend liked. And when we say "based", we mean it: the lyrics were taken outright from the strip. Sensible admitted that in hindsight he's surprised he never got sued over it.
    • "Rabid (Over You)" is a shout-out to....something. It's not clear what it is, other than it's a film. It seems to involve werewolves, space battles between heroes and monsters, a gun-toting father, and spiritual enlightenment. But whatever it is, Dave Vanian certainly seems to like it.
  • Silly Love Songs:
    • "New Rose"note  and "See Her Tonite" from Damned Damned Damned, "One Way Love" from Music for Pleasure, "Shadow of Love" from Phantasmagoria, non-album single "Eloise", "She" from Grave Disorder, "Little Miss Disaster" from So, Who's Paranoid?.
    • "Love Song" from Machine Gun Etiquette is a sarcastic parody of this.
  • Spin-Off:
    • Naz Nomad and the Nightmares - A one-off Garage Rock and Psychedelic Rock album from the 1984 lineup made to look like a (fake) soundtrack album from 1967.
    • Dave Vanian and the Phantom Chords - a Gothabilly project born out of the 1989 breakup. Last active in 1999.
    • The Sensible Gray Cells - A 2013 Psychedelic Rock collaboration between Captain Sensible and former bassist Paul Gray with drummer Ant Thickett.
  • Stage Names: Dave Vanian (David Lett), Captain Sensible (Raymond Burns), Rat Scabies (Christopher Millar), Monty Oxy Moron (Montgomery Gillan), Pinch (Andrew Pinching).note 
  • Step Up to the Microphone:
    • Captain Sensible takes over vocals for "Silly Kids Games" from The Black Album, "Life Goes On" and "Don't Bother Me" from Strawberries, and the B-sides "Take That" and "Torture Me".
    • Then-guitarist Roman Jugg sings "Edward the Bear" from Phantasmagoria.
    • Rat Scabies sang on the b-side "Burglar".
  • Take That!:
    • The title of one of the B-sides to the "Dozen Girls" single. Includes several lines that apply to the trope as well, such as "You're feeble and fat".
    • "Idiot Box" from Music for Pleasure, directed at New York Punk band Television for refusing to play with the band.
    • "Anti-Pope" from Machine Gun Etiquette, though more towards religious hypocrites than the pope himself.
    • "Bad Time for Bonzo" from Strawberries is this to Ronald Reagan.
    • "W" from Grave Disorder is this to, no surprise, George W. Bush.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: "Generals". It's sung from the point of view of the surviving Nazis in bombed-out Berlin, knowing the Red Army is coming for them in retaliation for Operation Barbarossa.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Their first two albums, written largely by Brian James.
  • Title Track: Found on Machine Gun Etiquette, Anything and Evil Spirits. Although the one from MGE was retitled to "Second Time Around" on any other live album or a compilation that might feature it.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: "Twisted Nerve" from The Black Album:
    "Go to the window / What do I see / Go to the window / The killer is me"
  • Video Nasties: Yes, they've got an entire song dedicated to Video Nasties. It was recorded especially for British sitcom The Young Ones for an episode titled "Nasty", which was about, fittingly enough, a Video Nasty. The song? "Nasty".
  • Vocal Evolution: Dave Vanian sings differently on the first three records, an atonal snarl, than on later material. From The Black Album era onward, he started singing in his baritone croon he's known for today, and even that album featured some of that snarl-singing present on previous albums.
  • War Is Hell: "Generals" from Strawberries.

Alternative Title(s): The Damned