IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (20)

15,265 days.

That’s how long it has been since the first ever single by a British punk group was released over here.

22 October 1976. It had long been thought the Sex Pistols or The Clash would grab that particular accolade but they were both blindsided by The Damned.

mp3 : The Damned – New Rose

It came out on Stiff Records and it really threw most people. Punk was supposed to be, according to legend, tuneless, aimless and unlistenable. New Rose was none of those, with its catchy chorus, decent enough verses and a lead singer who was easy(ish) on the ear. As Andy Partridge would later say, this is pop – yeah, yeah.

Talking of which, the b-side was a hoot.

mp3 : The Damned – Help!

103 seconds of what most folk thought punk was….tuneless, aimless and unlistenable if you thought the original was a sacred cow.

A first pressing, with the catalogue number STIFF 6, is fairly valuable these days, and a good quality copy will most likely cost you over £100 on the second-hand market.

It was still too much for daytime or commercial radio who barely played it.  And with nobody hearing it, nobody was buying it.  It didn’t break into the Top 75.

Oh, and for what it’s worth…..I reckon The Damned would release better 45s later on.  My own favourite is this.

JC

AND NOW WE’RE GONNA DANCE TO A DIFFERENT SONG

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

JC