Fiendish Shadows

by: The Damned

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! ~ Ned Raggett

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