The Damned

With the Swinging Utters and the Briefs. Sunday, October 14, at the Agora.

In the rush to deify English punk's earliest architects, the Damned have often been forgotten. While the Clash and the Sex Pistols harbor the bulk of the historical acclaim, it should be noted and remembered that it was the Damned who amassed the largest stockpile of punk-rock "firsts." Theirs was the first punk album released in the U.K. and the first album put out by the legendary Stiff Records, and they were the first English punks to tour America. The band's first album, Damned Damned Damned, was the antithesis of the political stakes laid out by the Pistols and Clash; it was clearly more of an assault on pop music than the culture at large. Produced by the venerable Nick Lowe, the record is a melodic, often funny, and shockingly expeditious roar that went over with a wink and a nod. It was also the only studio effort to carry the band's full original lineup (the Damned also became the first punk band to corner the market in personnel changes: Last count included more than 30 official members throughout the band's lifespan). Twenty-five years on, the Damned are still at it, making music in typical Damned punk fashion. There's a new drummer named Pinch, a new record on Dexter Holland's (Offspring) Nitro label, and a new tour of North America. But in a career filled with "firsts," the Damned also seem to be heading toward one great big "last": They're the first punk band to have stayed with it all too long.

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