For a while, Britain was positively brimming with fiery punk talent. In the late seventies with the inception of punk, London and the rest of the British Isles produced a plethora of raucous talent. Perhaps none more so deeply entrenched in the ethos of the new movement than The Damned and The Clash. By 1979, the two groups had confirmed their places at the top of the pile, largely by outlasting the others, and were set on making albums for the new decade.
The Clash would be working on their classic album, and quite possibly the ultimate punk record, London Calling, while The Damned would also be in the studio recording their new LP Machine Gun Etiquette. It was during these sessions that the two bands would connect and provide the wonderful footage below. In the clip, we see Captain Sensible on the ukulele, Rat Scabies playing spoons and Joe Strummer delivering an impassioned vocal performance for ‘New Rose’.
The song is, without doubt, The Damned’s finest contribution to music. Their debut record was released on Stiff Records in 1976 and quickly saw the band unleash a new sound on the world. It saw Vanian, accompanied by the composer of the song Brina James, Captain Sensible and drummer Rat Scabies deliver one of the decade’s lasting anthems. Scabies’ drums, in particular, are a reminder of times gone by as they thud with the kind of folkloric menace that guarantee you’ll never forget them.
None of that is present in this clip though. In this footage, we get a very unique experience. It sees the band’s former bassist and later guitarist, Captain Sensible, playing the iconic riff on the ukulele while Rat Scabies’ aforementioned thudding is reduced to a session on the spoons. After the intro is gone and the duo continued the rhythm, Joe Strummer bursts into the scene to sing the song’s inflammatory lyrics.
The two bands were recording at Wessex Sound Studios when the footage was captured and it shows off not only two of the biggest punk bands in the world but a group of friends too. There’s a certain warmth to be taken from seeing these comparatively young men having fun making music, it’s a reminder of simpler times that we are more than happy to revisit.
Of course, the two albums being recorded, The Clash’s London Calling and The Damned’s Machine Gun Etiquette. would have remarkably different lives. Strummer and Co. would go on to redefine the punk sound with their genre-bending timeless classic, setting the standard globally and achieving worldwide success. Meanwhile, The Damned would only add to their own legacy as punk pioneers.
That, however, is entirely inconsequential to the men in this clip. Here, they aren’t the great Joe Strummer or members of punk forefathers The Damned. In this footage, they are just pals enjoying one another’s company and having a laugh.
Below, watch Joe Strummer, Captain Sensible and Rat Scabies pf The Damned performing ‘New Rose’ on a ukulele and some spoons back in 1979.
1979, messing around in the studio jamming to New Rose with Joe Strummer on vocals, Captain on ukulele and Rat on spoons. Filmed while The Damned and The Clash were both in Wessex Sound Studios recording Machine Gun Etiquette and London Calling respectively. from r/DamnedDamnedDamned