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Saturday, 15 July 2017

Revisiting Phantasmagoria - The Damned (1985)


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Phantasmagoria - The Damned
MCA Records
Produced by The Damned and Jon Kelly
Released 15th July 1985
UK Album Chart #11


Side 1
 Side 2

 Personnel
    Dave Vanian - Vocals
    Roman Jugg - Guitar, vocals on Edward The Bear, keyboards
    Bryn Merrick - Bass
    Rat Scabies - Drums
    Andy Richards - Additional keyboards
    Luís Jardim - Percussion
    Gary Barnacle - Saxophone


Singles On Phantasmagoria
7"

Released 18th March 1985
UK Chart #21

12"
On White Vinyl

12"

7"
Released 10th June 1985
 UK Chart #25

2x7" Limited Edition
A The Shadow Of Love    
B Nightshift
C Let There Be Rats    
D Wiped Out

10"

12"

A The Shadow Of Love (The Pressure Mix)    
B1 Nightshift    
B2 Would You

7"
Released 13th September 1985
UK Chart #34

12"
A Is It A Dream (Wild West Express Mix)    
B1 Street Of Dreams    
B2 Curtain Call *   
B3 Pretty Vacant    
B4 Wild Thing

* The link is not for the version that appeared on the record but a tv performance.

******************

By 1985 The Sex Pistols were a long gone distant memory and The Clash were on the verge of demonstrating just how vital Mick Jones and Topper Headon had been to the band and how their departure would inflict a fatal blow to the band with the up and coming release of their Sixth and what was to be their final album Cut The Crap (it's still painful to listen to after all these years)!  But amid all that there was one band still standing and still making exceptional music, despite changes in personnel...The Damned.

Nine years on from their Debut Single New Rose and Eight Years from their Debut Album Damned Damned Damned  it was quite apparent that the intervening years had seen the band moving in a different direction to what they might have started out as.

Band members had come and gone in those years, infact the whole band at one point in early 1978 had called it quits and had upped sticks to new ventures but the lure of the darkness can only be resisted for a short time and before you know it they were back in business. "Second time around" (to quote one of their songs) there was no Brian James and The Captain had switched to guitar as Algy Wood (formerly of The Saints) moved into the bass position (a place he held for just under two years before being replaced with former Hot Rod Paul Gray - though by the time of Phantasmagoria he had also left the band).

Three years on from their Strawberries album (which actually had given them their first Top 20 album reaching #15) there were was no Captain Sensible (he had left the band in 1984 and was enjoying a bit success as a Solo Singer!) and was replaced by Roman Jugg (he had previously been playing Keyboards for the band on the Strawberries album) and on Bass was Bryn Merrick who had replaced Paul Gray in 1983.

There was also a new Record Label in MCA Records (their previous label Bronze they only released one album and a couple of singles and they had also released a single on their own short-lived label - Damned Records).

Image-wise there was a real Gothic influence, but that should come as no surprise as the band had always flirted around Gothic concepts, none more so than lead vocalist Dave Vanian. In comparison though to bands like The Fields of Nephilim, The Mission and The Sisters of Mercy etc The Damned would probably be considered Goth-Lite!

Three singles were released from the album and although Grimly Fiendish reached the highest chart position of the trio I am a huge fan of Shadow of Love, which I thought was the much better Single and deserved to go further than its #25 placing. Is It A Dream wasn't too bad but personally I didn't think it was a good choice for a Single but it was a good album track (Street of Dreams might have been better). Maybe they should have just left it at the two releases.

I do really rate this album. Despite its success Strawberries didn't appeal too much to me and I really felt with Phantasmagoria the band gained a new lease of life as they were about to go into their Tenth Anniversary (here's a wee half hour shot from their show in 1986 at The Town and Country Club in Kentish Town that demonstrated that live they were still a force to be reckoned with).
 

Six months after the release of Phantasmagoria, The Damned would have the biggest selling Single of their career when they released a cover of Barry Ryan's Eloise. It peaked at #3 on the UK Chart.

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