Friday, December 16, 2011

Neat Neat Neat

The Damned, Dave Vanian, Captain
Sensible, bass player, Rat Scabies
Growing up in Stultified, Ohio, I lived for the unusual.  Living in a town with a library that removed offense articles from magazines and record store that featured only family friendly music, stimulation was hard to come by.

The western world's booming roar of outrage over the fledgling punk rock movement was a faint reverberation through my hometown's thickly insulated walls of intolerance towards the unusual.

To me,  those faint echos were tiny drops of gasoline sprinkled on the embers of my curiosity.

I borrowed the The Silver Fish, a 1970 something Dodge Malibu with a slant six engine and three on the tree transmission to drive to the local Bowling Green State University campus.  Using The Reader's  Guide to Periodical Literature (the Internet in book form), I began my search for information about Punk Rock.

Of course, the most notorious punk rock band was the Sex Pistols.  More of a media stunt orchestrated by svengali  impresario and sex-shop owner, Malcom Maclaren, than a band, the Sex Pistols were about being shocking.  Their fame (or infamy) was a product of their mocking andd disrepspect of some of Britain's most sacred cows.  Fueled by their outlandish antics, their offensive lyrics, their fan's unusual costumes and the tragic life and death of Sid Viscous, they were a sensation without even having to play their instruments.

I bought Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, their only album, in a bin of 8 track cutouts at the local Woolworth's store and played it endlessly.  I was enthralled because they said "fuck" alot and eventhough I am not British, their songs about turning concentration camps into vacation getaways and the infamous "God Save the Queen (we mean it, man), attacked an establishment very much like the one I felt oppressing me in my hometown.  I mean, not really, after all I was a white, middle clas kid in the midwest.  The issues that the Sex Pistols mocked were worlds away from my universe where the worst thing the authorities did was tell me I couldn't bring my walkman to school.

Lastly, what they lacked in musical skill they made up for in ferocity.  Punk rock kicked way more ass than Chuck Mangione, or even The Who.

My favorite punk band for many years was The Damned.  They were ;ess apolitical than The Sex Pistols, better muscians and possessed a visual stylethat borrowed heavily from Hammer films.  They are considered to have released the first punk single.  Neat Neat Neat/New Rose was released October 22, 1976, nearly one month before The Sex Pistol's "Anarchy in the UK" saw record stores.

In his October 30th, 2008 show, famous British person, Craig Ferguson shares his reaction to hearing that first Damned single.

Here is the original line up, before guitarist Brian James left and Captain Sensible moved from bass to lead.  Note singer Dave Vanian's ghoulish theatrical make-up.  His fondness for performing in19th century styled clothing became trade marks for burgeoning Goth fashion. 

These days, I often think about The Damned when talking about my dog, Eloise, whom I named after one of their biggest selling singles.  She even has similar coloring to Dave Vanian's black and white hair when I saw them in 1986 at The Jockey Club. This video is from around that time.

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