Smashing it Up: A Decade of Chaos with the Damned by Kieron Tyler

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Omnibus Press [Publication date 12.06.17]

The book focuses on their formation and subsequent first decade, where along with the Clash and the Sex Pistols, were one of the first punk bands. The influence of the band stretches far and wide, be it them taking on support bands who later broke big themselves like Black Flag or having their classic song ‘New Rose’ being covered by Guns ‘N’ Roses. The classic line-up of Dave Vanian (the only ever present throughout the band’s many line-up changes), Captain Sensible, Rat Scabies and Brian James are all interviewed by the author and often tell a varying version of key events ion the band’s history as you’d expect. They have had a fair few musicians through their ranks including Algy Ward (who went on to form Tank), Paul Gray (later seen in UFO), Jon Moss (Culture Club) and Lemmy often appeared on stage with them.

You find out lots of facts including Captain’s love of cricket (his solo career and hit ‘Happy Talk’ are also covered in depth) and interesting insights to the various offshoots including the Phantom Chords and Naz Nomad and the Nightmares. Plus of course the band were very rock ‘n’ roll with Captain often finishing gigs in the nude, and along with Rat Scabies causing mayhem and damage in recording studios and venues. There are plenty of these tales in the book.

The band suffered from a series of label issues and changing management, yet despite setbacks still managed to record some classic songs and Kieron Tyler is a fan, which helps when he assess the songs and impacts of the albums throughout those first ten years. He is honest in his assessment and makes you want to listen to the songs again

Although the book is looking mainly at the band’s first ten years, Tyler goes onto cover the more recent history of the band although not in as much detail. Good news for Damned fans is a new album is due possibly by the end of year and they show no signs of stopping yet.

Well researched and for once a band biography that includes author interviews with the various current and past members, rather than relying solely on archive interviews. Great read for fans of the band and music in general.

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