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Fiendish Shadows

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Album Review

Emerging in 1997 as part of Cleopatra's reissue/release series of nearly everything Damned it could get its hands on, Fiendish Shadows documents a show or shows (recording dates aren't provided) from its 1985/1986 tour in support of Phantasmagoria. At this point, the Scabies/Vanian/Jugg/Merrick lineup had a fair couple of years experience under its belt, first with Captain Sensible and then without; the relative stability of this arrangement likely helped the band put on a crackerjack show. Sound quality is quite good, though the mix is off; for instance, on the fantastic opening cut, a run through the first part of the epic "Curtain Call," Vanian's voice suddenly plunges in volume once the drumming kicks in and only recovers from that a few songs in. About half of Phantasmagoria shows up, with an explosive take on "Is It a Dream" and a bravura "Street of Dreams." A couple of cuts from the not far gone Strawberries make the grade as well, including a great take on "Stranger on the Town" and a sprightly version of "Gun Fury." Faves of yore that turn up unsurprisingly include "New Rose" and "Smash It Up," while "Love Song" makes a brief, fun appearance and the disc as a whole concludes with the always hilarious kiss-off "Disco Man," initially delivered in the 'Val Doonican way, as Vanian puts it. Even more intriguing are the two covers that take a bow; one, the Electric Prunes' "I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night," had originally surfaced via the band's Naz Nomad and the Nightmares incarnation. The other was never formally recorded: Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" given the energetic blast you'd expect any punk rockers worth their salt would. On a technical note, while a ticket from an American gig is part of the cover art, the recording itself seems to have taken place in London based on Vanian's between-song comments. Go figure!


Formed: 1976 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

With punk's history having entered a new millennium, the impact of the band initially judged "the least likely to" seems to grow ever more each day. The Ramones hold deserved pride of place for kick-starting the whole thing, while the Sex Pistols -- and to a lesser extent, the Clash -- helped take it to an even more notorious level, serving as role models for many young bands to this day. But arguably just as important and memorable were the Damned, London contemporaries of the Pistols and Clash...
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Fiendish Shadows, The Damned
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