Local Label Reissues First Two Damnation of Adam Blessing Albums on Vinyl

click to enlarge Local Label Reissues First Two Damnation of Adam Blessing Albums on Vinyl
George Shuba
At the height of its popularity, the local psychedelic rock band the Damnation of Adam Blessing played with acts such as Grand Funk Railroad, Bob Seger and Alice Cooper. It released two solid albums — 1968's Damnation of Adam Blessing and 1970's The Second Damnation — and had a couple of regional hits before calling it a day.

Nearly 20 years ago, the Italian label Akarma reissued the band's three albums and packaged them in a box set that came with a booklet and poster. That label had remastered the vinyl copies of the records, so the quality wasn’t particularly good.

But now, the locally based Exit Stencil Records has reissued the band’s first two albums. Because the Exit Stencil guys got ahold of the masters, the quality is much higher.

Getting the masters from United Artists/Capitol/Universal was no easy task.

“I think it took a couple of years,” explains Damnation guitarist Jim Quinn. “[Exit Stencil’s] Brandon [Stevens] found our [out-of-print] records at a flea market or something and wanted to get the rights to them. Bob Kidney from the Numbers Band told me about that.”

Through Kidney, Stevens contacted Quinn and set the reissue campaign in motion.

The two albums came out on vinyl today.

“Working with Universal is a long-time process, especially when there’s not a lot of cash,” says Quinn. “I’m amazed they found the stuff and cut the deal.”

Exit Stencil employed Eliot Kissileff, a technical engineer who worked at Sony Studios for a few years, to handle the remastering.

“The drums and bass sound great,” says Quinn. “He’s not an amateur. He did a great job on this stuff — I can tell that even with these old ears of mine. Originally, we did them at the Cleveland Recording Company with Ken Hamann. He did all our albums. He was a true engineer. A lot of the equipment he built himself. He had an extraordinary amount of knowledge.”

Doug Sheppard (who writes for Ugly Things magazine) provided the liner notes that document the records’ respective histories.

“Doug wrote that magazine article a long time ago, and I’m glad he’s getting the credit he deserves," says Quinn. "They didn’t put his name on it for the previous reissues.”

Much like the music of the Moody Blues or the Zombies, the band’s psychedelic rock holds up over time.

“As we’ve grown and aged, I can appreciate what we’ve done,” says Quinn. “It was original. Today, when I listen to it, I still think the songs hold up. There were lots of things back then we didn’t like about our recordings. But we embraced the songs after we played them for reunion tours, especially with the third album, which was the orchestra stuff. We did an acoustic set with those songs. I’m happy it does hold up, and the kids are embracing it. We did some things musically that weren’t done before. I just wish we had the opportunity to perform more.”

Quinn says there’s not much left in the Damnation vaults at this point though he does think there’s a recording of the band’s reunion show that took place nearly 20 years ago at the Rock Hall. He says it’s probably just sitting in a box at singer Adam Blessing’s house in Houston.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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