The Damned, thanks to New Rose on Stiff Records in October 1976, may have released the first punk rock single in the UK but to many they were regarded as a bit of a joke band and never given the same kudos as many of their peers.

If you look back at their history, they do appear to have been a half-decent pop/rock band who were in the right place at the right time to jump on the bandwagon with enough savvy among certain band members to adopt the look and feel of punk, including adopting silly monikers, to get noticed and written about.

I hadn’t fully realised that they had broken up for a bit after their second album had been panned, undergoing various changes in personnel including having Jon Moss, later to find huge pop fame/infamy as part of Culture Club, on drums for a short spell. They were absent for much of 1978 but came back with a bang in 1979 with the occasionally tuneful Machine Gun Etiquette from which this classic 45 was lifted:-

mp3 : The Damned – Smash It Up

It was banned by the BBC on the basis of its title despite it not really being an anarchistic call to arms. Still made #35 in the charts but deserved better.

Here’s your b-side

mp3 : The Damned – Burglar

Comic-book punk rock indeed. The sort of stuff that Kenny Everett parodied in his TV shows of the time



  1. The first album wasn’t cartoon punk at all, the second was a mistake. They wanted Syd Barrett to produce it, and ended up with another Pink Floyd member instead. That should have been a warning sign. Brian James left after Rat Scabies had jumped ship, hence Jon Ross being in the band for a short while. Lu Edmonds also had a stint as a second guitarist, before disappearing for a while and re-emerging in PiL.
    The second coming of the Damned is the part of the biography that could easily be written in the pages of the Beano, as their Bash Street Kids behaviour came to the fore, with the Captain giving Plug a run for his money is comic book hero status.
    However, some good music did come out at times, although they were never really back into top division status. An early second time around b-side was their take on a single by Sweet, with a guest musician’s contribution being credited as “Blitz on the Ballroom bass by Lemmy.”

  2. And yet by 1985 they were encroaching on Goth. I own “Phantasmagoria” but really should have more early works in the Record Cell. I remember the scented sleeve on “Strawberries.” It was a pricey import at the time.

  3. The only Damned track I really got into was their blistering “farewell” single “Thanks For The Night”, an unknown classic imho that I still love to this day.

  4. On the album, Smash It Up has a part 1, a hauntingly lovely instrumental part, before launching into part 2, posted here. I heard an interview with Captain Sensible a couple of years back on 6 music, where he explained that part 1 was done as an immediate response to finding out about Marc Bolan getting killed, as of course, The Damned famously toured as support act to T-Rex just before the crash, and got on really well with Bolan. That revelation just takes the part 1 into another dimension, i think about that now every time I hear it.

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