So far, in no particular, order, we’ve had Ignore Them by Eddie and The Hotrods, Ain’t No Surf in Portobello by The Valves, No Russians in Russia by The Radio Stars, XTC’s Radios In Motion, Space’s Magic Fly, Pirate Love by The Heartbreakers and Wire’s Three Girl Rhumba.
And now for the eighth in the series, the second single by The Damned, Neat, Neat, Neat which was also the lead off track on their debut album, 1977’s Damned, Damned, Damned.
A few weeks ago Captain Sensible turned 60 and celebrated by throwing a party at the Forum in London, where he performed with his band and support acts, The Ruts, T.V Smith, Johnny Moped and Eddie Tenpole Tudor.
Cost to punters?
£1.70 as the he wanted the ticket price to reflect what might have been charged in 1977 although when The Damned headlined the Glasgow Apollo that year, the concert ended up being free but that’s another story for another time.
Anyway, I ask you: ‘What’s not to like?’
Well one Guardian reader still felt that a moan was in order and this is what she had to say:
Yet another band that have become exactly what they set out to destroy.
In the 70s bands like the Slits, Gang of 4, the Raincoats, the Au Pairs and others focused on the burning issues of the day and helped out organisations like Rock Against Sexism and Rock Against Racism. The Damned on the other hand behaved like little brats playing practical jokes on each other and in the case of Captain Sensible dressing in a nurse’s uniform.
Sad to think that legions of fans (mainly middle aged men) still believe they are in any way, shape or form relevant.
They never were.
Okay firstly, this particular supposedly sad middle aged man has watched a lot of documentaries on punk over the years and knows there’s usually a point early on in most of them when archive footage of mountains of black plastic bagged debris strewn across London’s Leicester Square is shown to illustrate the unhealthy state of the pre-punk nation – although these images are actually from the so-called Winter of Discontent of 1978-79.
This is when the Captain tends to get wheeled out, wearing his trademark red beret, to berate the typical supercilious prog rock musos of the mid ’70s, intent as they were on fitting their latest ludicrous concept onto four sides of vinyl to be wrapped in some airbrushed fantasy landscape fold-out sleeve preferably designed by Roger Dean.
INT. EMPIRE POOL, WEMBLEY
A ridiculously caped Rick Wakeman mauls his keyboard as part of his performance of The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table live on ice with accompanying ‘balletic’ skaters.
This was the kind of the thing The Damned set out to destroy.
As for politics, at the time, yeah, The Damned were more interested in snorting honkfuls of speed than reading up on Situationism and probably more likely to start a food fight with each other than fight any fascists but Sensible has claimed to have always been a socialist and, over the years, he’s become even more politically inclined.
His debut solo record was released on Crass Records in 1981, he’s been a member of the Green Party, a campaigning vegetarian, oh, and in 2006 he even founded his own political party, the Blah! Party, aimed at attracting protest votes.
Relevant? Well The Damned were at the forefront of the early London punk scene, playing the kind of fast and furious music that has influenced hundreds of bands ever since. They were also famously the first British punk band to be signed by a record label, the first British punk band to release single and the first British punk band to release an album. At least back then I think you’d have to say that, musically, they were undoubtedly relevant.
They were fantastic fun too, fun being something I suspect the person I quoted might have only a very passing acquaintance with. See what you think, here they are performing Neat, Neat, Neat on ITV’s Supersonic in the spring of 1977: