Sunday, April 3, 2011


See what happens when a bit of keyboard (piano,  synth) is added to the mix?  Words like "polite",  "accomplished",  and "bloated" are bandied about like sacred icons keeping evil spirits and bad manners away.  Well,  this 1980 release by those punk saviors The Damned IS their most accomplished and bloated (see the 17 minute "Curtain Call" for proof of that progressive tendency) album,  a double at that!  I think of the first LP in this set as playful,  pretentious,  and ambitious,   and better for it.  This is really a well-written and played pop record with great songs  and catchy melodies.  Its central concept is summed up in the first track,  "Wait For the Blackout":
                                              In darkness there is no sin
                                              Light only brings the fear
                                              Nothing to corrupt the eyes
                                              There is no vision here
                                              At first you may seem strange
                                              But do not go away
                                              The dark holds the power
                                              That you won't find in the day

 This absence of light suggests something far more openly creative than a Goth/Punk hybrid,  it announces  The Damned's arrival at musical and lyrical maturity with all its influences absorbed and ready for duty in the world of Perfect Pop.  This is not an abandonment,  but an embrace.  It's songs are no longer the angry cliches that punk eventually found itself mired in,  but attempts to insinuate ideas from history,  literature,  and psychology into Punk's limited palette.  Tracks like "Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde",  "Lively Arts",  and especially "History of the World Part 1" are hummable,  thought provoking,  and even touching at times.  It's always good to begin with an ending,  as "History of the World Par 1" does:

                                     I just hit the ground, boy,  have I arrived
                                     Tell the dinosaurs they just won't survive


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