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Sunday, June 26, 2005

LISTENING POST

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The Damned


The Damned's 1977 debut, produced by Nick Lowe for Stiff Records, has often been called the first British punk album, but the distinction is merely a technical one. The Sex Pistols and The Clash were already around, so by the time those groups released LPs, The Damned already sounded passe. In retrospect, they seem more like a model for future headbangers than an inspiration for the safety-pin crowd.

News photo

To many, the quartet's subsequent 15-year career reads as one long joke. There's, of course, the names: Captain Sensible, Monty Oxy Moron, Rat Scabies. And their underground reputation had more to do with the dodgy quality of their songs and their spotty distribution deals than with any transgressive elements. But if punk rock can still be equated with anarchy then The Damned were the real thing. They actually seemed less concerned with pop-music conventions than their better-regarded counterparts, and more interested in the absolute purity of three-chord, three-minute punk chaos.

Granted, leader Dave Vanian tried to steer what was left of the group into goth-rock and more album-oriented fare in the 1980s, but the group's recent reunion (second? third?) is being hailed as a triumph of old-school rock attitude that accentuates the positive, meaning power to burn, and a winking acknowledgment that they were in on the joke all the time.

The Damned: June 29, 7 p.m., Hiroshima Club Quattro (082-542-2280); June 30, 7 p.m., Shinsaibashi Club Quattro, Osaka (06-6281-8181); July 1, 7 p.m., Nagoya Club Quattro (052-264-8211); July 3, 6 p.m., Shibuya Club Quattro, Tokyo (advance tickets sold out); July 4, 7 p.m., Ebisu Liquid Room, Tokyo (Creativeman, 03-5466-0777). All tickets 6,000 yen in advance.


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