The DAMNED – ” New Rose ” Classic Single Released on 22nd October 1976

Posted: March 22, 2018 in MUSIC
Tags: , , , , , ,

Image result for the damned images

In 1976, Britain was a cultural wasteland for some with prog rock bands like ELP and Genesis and then the dregs of glam rock.  But Mick Jones and Tony James – who’d later play in the Clash and Generation X respectively – were starting a band called the London SS. We were all in a dingy basement auditioning a drummer called Chris Millar, who had scabies at the time, when a rat ran across the floor. So Chris became Rat Scabies.

Mick and Tony liked Rat’s drumming, but said he didn’t look right because he had a shabby overcoat and messy hair. So Rat and I went off to form a band with another guy, Ray Burns, who Rat knew through cleaning toilets at Fairfield Halls in Croydon.

Ray had long hair and was into John McLaughlin, a jazz fusion guitarist, so I played him the Stooges and the Ramones – and he became our infamous madcap guitarist Captain Sensible. Rat suggested a singer called Dave Vanian, who was into vampire stuff. We got our name from two 1960s films: Luchino Visconti’s The Damned, about the Nazis, and the horror movie The Village of the Damned. It was perfect for us.

Captain wore a nurse’s uniform on stage and, at the third gig, poured a pint of beer over his head. After that, it was just chaos every night. Audiences hated us.

I had a bunch of riffs I’d written when I was in a band called Bastard. When I played New Rose to Rat, his drumming set it on fire. We signed to Jake Riveria Stiff Records to do a single, and Nick Lowe produced us in a tiny eight-track studio. We spent more time in the pub round the corner than we spent recording, but Nick captured how wild we sounded.

We thought we were a fast rock’n’roll band, but the journalist Caroline Coon coined the term “punk rock” so suddenly “New Rose” was “the first British punk single”. Everything happened very quickly after that. Contrary to belief, New Rose isn’t a love song. The words were just imagery to go with the riffs: “I got a new rose, I got it good / Guess I knew that I always would / I can’t stop to mess around / I got a brand new rose in town.” . The single’s B-side was a cover of the Beatles’ hit “Help!”, performed about twice as fast as the original. Both songs became staples of the Damned’s live shows,

However, some lines did express my excitement about the early punk scene: “I got a feeling inside of me / It’s kinda strange like a stormy sea.” It was everything I’d ever dreamed of. And there I was in London with everyone going crazy for it.

Dave Vanian, singer recalls The band were auditioning for a singer, and I went early to check out the the guy before me, but he never turned up. Turned out it was Sid Vicious. Could he have become the singer in the Damned, rather than the bass-player in the Sex Pistols? We’ll never know.

Brian shouted the lyrics in my ear while he played guitar, and I did the best I could. He’d seen me in the audience at some shows and told me: “You look like a singer.” Before it became all torn clothes and spiky hair, punk was about individuality. I wore winkle-pickers and was going for that 1920s Rudolph Valentino look. I’d seen a few Hammer horror films, too, and decided I wanted to live in Baron Von Frankenstein’s castle. 

So I left my gravedigger job to join the Damned and everything started moving very fast. We’d rehearse, get in the van, tear up the country doing gigs, then get back in the studio.

“New Rose” was a raw, visceral, classic three-minute pop song. My famous spoken intro – “Is she really going out with him?” – taken is from the Shangri-La’s Leader of the Pack, which I adored. I’d just been clowning around, but everyone liked it so we kept it. We recorded a whole album – Damned Damned Damned – in two days flat. In those days, there was never much food around. We were fuelled by amphetamine sulphate and cider. The Damned were funny and had such a strong image, sometimes that acted against them, and people didn’t recognise and realise how great their records were. As well as being the first, New Rose is definitely one of the very best singles from this era – or any other era to be honest.

Image result for the damned new rose sleeve images

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.