This time Orshoski tackles UK punk pioneers The Damned, first UK punk band to release a 45 (the classic New Rose), the first LP in Damned, Damned, Damned and the first Limey punks to tour the US of A. All this and yet they still don’t get the accolades they deserve, or at least that’s the way the band sees it. Nor the money which is a re-occurring theme through out the doco. This is a band who fell apart, got back together, feuded, argued, have now split into two camps and still complain about the bucks! It would almost be funny except for the fact we’ll probably never see the original band playing together again.
Orshoski does a great job tracing the beginnings of the band, following the various factions, trying to give everyone a voice including current and ex-members whilst not really taking sides, letting both sides (all sides?) share their side of the story.
That said, this is definitely Captain Sensible’s vehicle. He is one of those eccentric characters that it seems you can only find in the UK and he is a funny bugger. But all the original members get to tell their side(s) of the story, lead singer and the original Goth template, Dave Vanian, drummer Rat Scabies and original guitarist and songwriter Brian James as well as former and current members like Paul Grey, Bryn Merrick and Roman Jugg.
Those interviews and candid camera moments are interspersed with talking heads like Lemmy, Chrissy Hynde, Mick Jones, Billy Idol, Dave Gahan, Jello Biafra plus a host of others (but no Henry Rollins!! He must have been busy that week) and footage both old and new in an attempt to show just how influential The Damned were but also how they were prone to self destruction.
Sadly money and ego seems to have created a permanent rupture in the fours’ friendship and in fact the original band hasn’t played together since 1991 when a flippant remark on stage by Sensible caused Brian James to walk out of a tour.
Scabies and James now play the first album with guest singers whilst Sensible and Vanian still tour as The Damned. Of course you could argue that there should be more from one side or the other, or that there is too much of the Captain and not enough of someone else but Orshoski has done a pretty damn fine job with such a diverse bunch of personalities, particularly a bunch who don’t want to actually talk to each other anymore and who all have different versions of the same events.
This is a documentary that doesn’t gloss over the tantrums and faults of the band but is still a love paean to one of the best of the original punk era bands, a band who didn’t sit still or settle for one sound, a band who were prepared to experiment and push themselves, a band who created one of the true masterpieces of punk rock with the album Machine Gun Ettiquette but a band who are all still too human and whose foibles and personalities were always going to create tension and chaos.
Hell this is a band who thrived on that chaos, the personality clashes, arguments, booze, drugs and mayhem.
Long may they reign.
- Captain Sensible & Fred Armison – Nobody Busks In LA
- Captain’s tour of Croydon
- The Doomed / Henry Badowski
- The Anarchy Tour
- Smash It Up – Live At The Captain’s 60th Birthday Party
Available as a DVD/Blu-Ray combo from MVD Visual