The Damned – the greatest surviving British punk band – are back with their first new album in a decade, still firing on all cylinders, and breaking all the rules. Where their peers either burnt out, or faded away into mediocrity, this most spiritually chaotic of all punk groups have never been away, never surrendered their ideals, always forged onwards.
From 1977’s high-energy ‘Damned Damned Damned’, via the riotous ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ (1979), to the macabre ‘Phantasmagoria’ (1985) and beyond, The Damned never stayed in one place for long. Colourful, anarchic, yet propelled by an indefatigable creative motor, they’ve expanded their remit with every phase, to become one of the top-flight UK groups of ANY pop era.
Since 2008’s ‘So, Who’s Paranoid?’, they’ve toured constantly, to raise awareness of that amazing body of work. They now capitalise on all that with ‘Evil Spirits’, an eleventh studio album, which is not only fit to rank high amongst its illustrious predecessors, but also within the great rock pantheon. As their guitarist, Captain Sensible, points out, “I have some incredible albums at home, by The Kinks, The Who, The Small Faces – I want ours to be as good as those.”
Far from merely trading on the shock value of bestriding the stage with just three chords and some lively egos, The Damned were always about proper music. Alongside The Sex Pistols and The Clash on the legendary ill-fated Anarchy tour in December ’76, they felt frustration rather than elation at being banned everywhere. Through ’77, they were courted by pre-punk giants who’d sniffed out their superior musicality, including Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, who checked them out at the Roxy, and Marc Bolan, whom they supported on his final tour with T-Rex.