1982 was a great time for music in the U.K. and if I had a time machine it would be a great place to revisit.
The Damned released their 5th studio album Strawberries and with Captain Sensible on guitar the album is far more accomplished than most would expect from what still was a legendary punk band.
Ignite (Sensible / Vanian / Gray / Scabies) is one of the faster songs on Strawberries and does indeed light-up the album. Vanian sounds assured on vocals and catchy backing “Whoo – O – A – Oohs” from Sensible with matching guitar runs. It gets the party started.
Generals (Sensible / Vanian / Gray / Scabies) is melodic yet still urgent. The Damned have moved on and the sound is far richer than on their early albums. That’s not to knock the early albums, that is not possible – it’s just a different beast we’re dealing with here.
Stranger On The Town (Sensible / Vanian / Gray / Scabies) is a proper rock anthem. The sound builds very quickly to a totally solid gem. Alienation is dealt with in a non-plussed manner and the song deserves at lot more credit than it has ever attracted. It is still a LIVE favourite and the band and Damned fans know what a gem it is. The keyboards fazing in at the end almost evoke The Doors. Yes. It’s that good. You’ve never heard it? Seek it out somehow.
Dozen Girls (Sensible / Vanian / Gray / Scabies) has pop single written all over it yet sold poorly as a single release. Catchy, fun and that Damned blend. It’s another winner.
The Dog (Sensible / Vanian / Gray / Scabies) is a slow and long song. It is moody and evocative even if it is not the urgent Damned listeners are used to. This does not stop it being another great song. Snarling effects and keyboards enter as the song moves around. Unique Damned.
Gun Fury (Of Riot Forces) (Sensible / Vanian / Gray / Scabies) is a song that keeps checking itself. It flows and stutters a lot. It is one of the weaker songs on Strawberries but still sounds good to my ears.
Pleasure And The Pain (Gray) is a lovely sounding mellow song. Lyrically affectionate is will resonate with listeners with its wide love song appeal. It is both downbeat and very happy sounding, how it achieves this I’m not sure – but it does. A fantastic song.
Life Goes On (Sensible / Vanian / Gray / Scabies) and if any band should have filed a law suit against Nirvana re Come As You Are it should never have been Killing Joke (Eighties) but The Damned. A soft song that is reflective and very positive. For the first time ever Sensible actually sings. It just works and is another great song.
Bad Time For Bonzo (Sensible / Vanian / Gray / Scabies) and the tempo ups. A fast song that does not over do its speed. Ronald Reagan gets a mild bashing but it just all good clean fun.
Under The Floor Again (Sensible / Vanian / Scabies) and The Damned use Beatles-esque loops and backtracking Indian vibes. It works and it is a superb song that even those that hated punk will enjoy. In the songs third quarter Sensible lets fly a slow burning guitar solo where you have to recheck your ears that he can play so well. Yet another lost classic.
Don’t Bother Me (Sensible / Vanian / Gray / Scabies) sounds like the first ever hidden track. It is mellow and also features looped sounds. The Damned were brave on this album and pulled off something quite special.
Strawberries peaked at Number 15 in the U.K. album chart and faded quite quickly. That does not stop it being a very unique record that really more ears should get to grips with. Go listen to it. I bet you’ll enjoy it…