Live: Anthology

by: The Damned

For die-hard the Damned lovers only, and even they should be disappointed in this shoddy package. The double-disc collection is poorly annotated (bandmembers aren't even listed, nor exactly when and where the tracks were recorded), shabbily packaged, and has sound barely above bootleg quality. Disc one seems like the better part of a 1992 show, by which time the group had largely abandoned their punk past for a harder-edged goth approach. Oddly, though, the biggest hits from their later years, "Eloise" and "The Shadow of Love," are absent, replaced with sloppy, out-of-tune renderings of the Stooges' "I Feel Alright" and a trashy, unfocused hard rock sound. A hardly adequate cover of Sweet's "Ballroom Blitz" appears on both discs, as do hastily performed versions of "Melody Lee," "Looking at You," "New Rose," "Neat Neat Neat," and "Love Song" but neither are significantly different, or in fact particularly good. Dave Vanian's shouted vocals -- when audible over the din -- are unintelligible as the group slogs through their catalog with such lumbering reckless abandon it's almost impossible to tell the songs apart without referring to the track listing. Disc two splits between shows in 1992 and 1993 but the difference in below-par sonics is unnoticeable as both are tinny and sound like an audience member holding up a microphone recorded them. Anyone who wants to remember the Damned fondly as one of the longest lasting and musically diverse of the original British punk bands needs to stay far, far away from this live artifact that even established fans might find offensive. It's little more than a rip-off and should be avoided by all but the most rabid collectors. ~ Hal Horowitz

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