Sunday, February 17, 2013

Damned Damned Damned - box set review!

I have always loved punk rock but have to admit that I have never had many punk rock albums. Last year I found the Clash on Broadway box set at Value Village (rare score) and happily picked it up. This was a great place for me to start in my punk collection. As punk fans know, original punk albums from the 70’s tend to get a pretty high price on eBay and at your local record store. It’s expensive to start out by buying punk rock albums when you don’t even know exactly what you’re getting. The Clash box set was a great place to start and narrowed down my vinyl search as I liked some of their music more than others (personally I prefer pre London Calling Clash).


I decided to try the box set approach again. This time I went with new The Damned 4 CD box set. The Damned were part of the first wave of punk rock bands from England, they were part of the first big three with the others being the Sex Pistols and The Clash. While the latter bands tended to become more household names, The Damned need to be appreciated for what they were, one of the founders of punk rock.


This box set is solely based on their debut album, Damned Damned Damned. Besides being The Damned’s debut album, this was the debut album for British punk rock. That’s right, the first punk rock album. Sure the Sex Pistols and The Clash were playing too, and often sharing the same stages with The Damned, but The Damned were the first to release an LP. They were also the first British punk band to release a single. This single was New Rose and is found on this album.


I have to admit, this is the first time I ever played any album by The Damned, and being the first punk rock album I guess I had low expectations. I was expecting raw, lo-fidelity and shitty songs. Boy was I wrong. Whether it be the ripping guitar solos by Brian James, the crazy drum fills by Rat Scabies, the steady bass rhythm of Captain Sensible or the strong rock vocals of Dave Vanian, these guys deserve recognition for being a talented bunch of punks. The songs were great, a little longer than the short punk rock songs that would come from over in the USA, and catchy guitar riffs. I was completely blown away by the quality of this album. There is a good chance that even if you are not familiar with who The Damned are you may recognize the first two singles released from this album: New Rose and Neat Neat Neat.


Included in this box set was the original album; two CD’s of live recordings, b-sides and broadcasts; and an interview/documentary disc. Now sure the live recordings are poor quality but these were taken from cassette tapes in a boom box that were recorded going on 40 years ago. It is what it is and they were definitely a fun listen. I really loved the interview/documentary disc. This gave the full story behind the Damned and this album. It was loaded full of interesting facts including how Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders and even Lemmy from Motorhead were almost members of The Damned. I won’t spoil anymore; this again far exceeded my expectations. I figured this disc was just a throw in for really diehard fans but on the contrary, this was perfect for The Damned newbies like me.


This is hands down the best packaged box set I have ever come across. They really took pride in this and I really felt like I got my monies worth. It was all kept in a nice sturdy box with the albums cover on the front, but the inside was full of goodies.

First it had a booklet containing the story behind The Damned, a lot of this is repetitive to the interview/documentary disc, but it was easier to follow some of it on paper. I read this before I listened to the disc so I found it easy to follow along with the story.


Next was a hard cover book containing all the song lyrics, as well as mini biographies of band members (very mini, one paragraph). My favorite part of this book was pictures at the end showing all the 7” singles and picture sleeves, I’m going to have to keep my eyes open for a few of these.

Next we have a poster of the band on one side that is a copy of the original album release poster. On the backside of the poster is a rock family tree created by Pete Frame. This is my first introduction to these rock family trees. A friend of mine is a big fan of these and has a few books containing most of the trees created by Pete Frame. These are great; really give you an easy to follow history of these bands. I'm going to keep my eyes open for his books.


Also included was this cool little cardboard box containing three The Damned Pins. What a great addition.


Last but not least are the 4 CD’s packaged in attractive cardboard sleeves.


Again, what great packaging. A lot of times these box sets tend to have a few nice things and a bunch of fillers, no fillers here. Everything is this box is quality items. I highly recommend this box set to add to your punk rock collection as it has everything: history, music, and memorabilia.


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