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The Stiff Singles 1976 - 1977
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  • The first U.K. punk band to release a single, the Damned were also the movement's earliest "big name" casualties, breaking up following their poorly received second album. Of course, they would return, but anybody seeking a quick lesson in what made the original incarnation so important need look no further than this -- or any of the other collections that round up the five singles that the Damned cut for Stiff during 1976-1977 -- that is, the debut "New Rose," the near hit "Neat Neat Neat," two 45s pulled from Music for Pleasure, and for all the collectors out there, the "Stretcher Case Baby"/"Sick of Being Sick" coupling that was given away free at the band's first anniversary concerts, and has been soaring in value ever since. So frequently recompiled today, it is very easy to forget just how dramatic, nay, iconoclastic the Damned actually were at the time. In an age when neither the Sex Pistols nor the Clash were any more than a few incandescent lines in the music press, the Damned were aurally demolishing the Beatles ("New Rose" was backed by a mad take on "Help"); "New Rose" itself was described, by the short-lived National Rockstar magazine, as "the worst record ever made"; and as early as November 1976, listeners were writing in to DJ John Peel swearing they would never tune in to his show again if he dared play the Damned again. So, of course, he played them even more, and across the country, ears tuned in and said, "well, if they can do it, so can I." Forget all its other points of genesis, in terms of practical usage punk rock started there, and The Stiff Singles 1976-1977 transports you back to that special moment in time. ~ Dave Thompson
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