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Revisiting The Damned anthem that was produced by Hans Zimmer

Hans Zimmer has long been established as one of the most important names in the film industry. The accomplished composer has worked on a myriad of exceptional projects over his long career, ranging from The Lion King to films like Interstellar. 

More recently, Zimmer scored Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s space opera, Dune, and unsurprisingly, it was excellent. His blend of the orchestral with the electronic helped to bring Villeneuve’s film to life, giving it both the majesty and mystique that Frank Herbert’s worlds require. 

It’s a testament to Zimmer’s work that he has managed to stay so in demand for almost 35 years. He has consistently brought something refreshing to the world of film scores, whether it be using the steel drums in Rain Man, the African choir in The Lion King or the bagpipes in Dune, it’s Zimmer’s propensity to think outside of the box that has endeared him to fans and filmmakers for so long. 

The day The Damned began Britain’s punk invasion

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This dexterity didn’t come for nothing, and you could contend that as well as his evident genius, it was Zimmer’s work before his foray into films that really opened his mind up to countless musical possibilities. During a 2013 Reddit AMA, Zimmer explained: “My formal training was two weeks of piano lessons. I was thrown out of eight schools. But I joined a band. I am self-taught. But I’ve always heard music in my head. And I’m a child of the 20th century; computers came in very handy.”

It was his work with bands and new electronic instruments that helped him to cultivate the unmistakable style that we all know so well today. He gained much experience playing with keyboards and synthesisers with the Krakatoa, which then opened up the doors of possibility to work with the likes of The Buggles and Helden in the late ’70s. 

However, one would argue that the most exciting work that he did in this era was when he co-produced ‘The History of the World (Part 1)’ by UK punk heroes The Damned, a song taken from their 1980 masterpiece, The Black Album. The record is credited with marking the start of the four-album run that saw The Damned immerse themselves in goth culture, and to many, it is their best chapter. 

The song polarised fans of The Damned, with some lapping up their heavy use of synthesisers while others, who had been following them since their raucous days during the heyday of punk, were put off by what they perceived as this new pop-oriented direction. Notably, the album’s liner notes describe the song as “over-produced by Hans Zimmer.” 

I think the song is incredible for the time, and the fact that Zimmer’s influence helped The Damned to transform into the band we now know and love as kings of goth says it all. Even in his early days, his work was incredible, driven by the non-conformist fire that has made him so revered. His work only affects his collaborators in positive ways, and it’s a lesson that all musicians should heed.

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