GOD BLESS THE DAMNED BASS PLAYER!

The Damned, a very brief and incomplete history of one the longest ( but not continuous) running punk bands. The original line-up was Dave Vanian: vocals, Brian James: guitar, Rat Scabies: drums and Captain Sensible: bass guitar. Being one of the original London punk bands, forming in 1976, they were the first of this lot to release a single: "New Rose" on Stiff records. They also earned credit for being the first British punk band to release a full length album, also on Stiff, "Damned Damned Damned" , which produced the bass pulse driven, single "Neat Neat Neat". And to chalk up one more first for the band, in 1977 they became the first British punk band to tour the United States.

Also in '77, they added second guitarist Lu Edmonds. When it was time to record their second album, "Music For Pleasure" the Damned sought out Syd Barrett as a producer, but he declined or didn't want to leave the house or something like that. So they settled for his Pink Floyd bandmate, Nick Mason. Before the record was even released, Scabies quit the band, stating his utter dislike with the record as his reason. The album bombed commercially and critically, and after the promotional tour for "Music For Pleasure", The Damned broke up in early 1978. This would only leave room for many reformations and a long list of bass players to follow.

 

In late 1978, Rat Scabies formed a one-off band called "Les Punks" which reunited The Damned (without guitarist Brian James and Lu Edmunds), with the Captain moving to guitar and Lemmy (yes, that Lemmy) filling the bassist role. Soon after Les Punks, the decided to give The Damned another run, but to forego any legal hassle, they intially called the band The Doomed. After recording a couple of demos and doing a splatter of live gigs, Lemmy was replaced by Henry Badowski. Eventually, the band decided on the addition of former The Saints bass player, Algy Ward. With Ward on board, they resumed operations undet "The Damned", and recorded their third album, Machine Gun Etiquette.

Machine Gun Etiquette was the punk rock record for bass players. That gnarly, grinding tone that Algy Ward uses to set the pace of Love Song, is bone crushing! And the melodic runs he plays though out "Smash It Up Parts 1 & 2" are just effin' brilliant! His playing through out this album just set a new bar for the early British punk bands. It was both aggressive and melodic, yet always tasteful (well, may be the bass break/lead break in 'Anti-Pope' is questionable, but nonetheless, adventurous). And sweet, baby Moses, the dude played a Gibson Thunderbird! SCORE!!! Also to be noted, Capt. Sensible's move from bass to guitar, damn good move, he wielded 6-strings deftly!

Ward left the band in 1980, coming from Eddie and the Rods, he was replaced by Paul Gray. While Gray didn't have the balls out aggressive tone that Ward had, he took the melodic and lyrical approach to The Damned music one step further. For experimental purposes, listen to "Smash It Up", the last track on "Machine Gun Etiquette" (Ward on bass), followed by the lead off track of The Black Album "Wait For The Black Out". It's like Paul Gray said, "I see where the bloke was headed and I'm going to continue that journey". And check out "Another Hit Or Miss", this pretty much bridges the gap of the tone defference between Gray and Algy, but also, show a big difference, Gray had no qualms about playing in the higher registers! During this incarnation of The Damned, Gray also recorded Strawberries, with band. Not a bad record, but it seemed to lack cohesiveness, but this is oft said of bands or artist not willing to be pigeon-holed or stiffened by out side opinion.

Sometime in 1983, Gray left band and was replaced by Bryn Merrick. While Merrick was another stone's throw away from the early aggressive bass tones of The Damned, he was also a less "acrobatic" player than his predecessor, Paul Gray. But his playing fit perfectly in the direction the band took on for the "Phantasmogoria" album. The Damned had now morphed sonicaly into what Dave Vanian had always projected visually, something somewhat doomy and gloomy, but still basically writing good and catchy songs. Advise, all you Twilight kids and new vamps or whatever you call yourselves should seek this record out. Goth Rock. This record was followed by "Anything (1986)", which I know nothing about and a live album "Final Damnation" which featured both Sensible playing bass on earlier songs and Merrick on latter material. Sometime in 1988, they disbanded again.

Again, in 1993, they reformed, now with former New Model Army bassis,t Moose Harris in tow. Moose recorded the "Not Of This Earth" album with the band, but again, I'm not really familiar with this piece of work. But I dug some of the stuff he did with New Model Army.

The last bass player of note ( well in my very thin notebook), would be Patricia Morrison. While opening myself up as someone who may objective women, I'm going out on a limb, and saying, Patricia Morrison was by far, the most visually appealing of all The Damned bass players. But just to prove I know a little bit more about her, her earliest career notable was with The Bags, an early LA punk scene stable. Later she would go on to play with The Gun Club, followed by Fur Bible and following that, Sisters Of Mercy. She joined The Damned in 1997, somewhere along the line, she and lead singer, Dave Vanain, married. In 2004, they had a child and she retired from The Damned.

Overall and in closing, The Damned have a very rich and colourful history and bassist. While they all may differ in style and tone, and cannot be denied that The Damned employed and encouraged, strong and unoque bassist in their band. God bless The Damned Bass player!

Alliance

 

 

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