As punk exploded across England and the rest of the world in 1977, there were some notable names leading the charge. While The Clash and Sex Pistols are rightly seen as pioneers, The Damned can add an equal claim to the throne as they delivered some of the most blistering punk songs of all time, of which ‘New Rose’ must be the pinnacle.
When the band set foot on the University of Sussex campus in 1977, they arrived as one of the most complete punk outfits on the circuit. Headed up by Dave Vanian, one of the scene’s greatest frontmen, the group were on unstoppable form. Truly, this is how all punk shows should look.
We will admit to one thing, the sound quality is pretty lousy. The group may well have been nearing the cutting edge of music but that sharp edge was used to cut the connection of purist sonics and instead focus on the energy of the song.
That, plus the seventies PA systems and video recording equipment being well below par, mean that this clip isn’t the most audio-perfect. But if that’s why you’re here, then you’re missing the point.
There are varying reports of the band’s setlist on the night, all most people seem to remember is a blur of sweating, heaving bodies. However, one thing is for certain, they ended the night with their debut single and one of punk’s greatest songs, ‘New Rose’.
Released in 1976 on Stiff Records, The Damned unleashed a brand new vision with their track. 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.
Backed by a cover of The Beatles song ‘Help‘, the band quickly gained a reputation in London and beyond as their new punk sound began to take hold of the country. Both songs became staples of their live shows and ‘New Rose’ provided a fitting ending to the band’s incendiary set.
Below, we’re jumping in out time machine and revisiting 1977 as the roaring fires of punk’s engine continued to whirr the mechanics of the country and saw The Damned breath smoke, ash and undoubtedly phlegm, at their crowd and intoxicated them with their impressive live show.
We’re not sure there’s any better showing of The Damned’s ‘New Rose’ than this one.