The Damned: So, Who’s Paranoid?

Punk’s Spinal Tap repackage their 10th with extra tracks.

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In tandem with a career-spanning new documentary Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead, which essentially portrays them as a tragicomic punk version of Spinal Tap, The Damned are reissuing their single album of the last 14 years in slightly expanded form.

Originally released in 2008, So, Who’s Paranoid? features the band’s current reconstituted line-up, with only Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible remaining from their late 1970s heyday.

Mostly group-written, but with Sensible’s smoother tastes taking the lead, the default style is pastiche 1960s garage-psych beat-pop on melodic janglers like A Nation For Heroes, with excursions into vaudevillian Rocky Horror panto-goth like Doctor Woofenstein and a handful of breakneck punk-lite guitar-shredders.

The polished production lacks bite, while the songwriting tends towards the derivative and generic, but Vanian is on career-best form, flexing his warm baritone croon on stand-out numbers like the operatic Nature’s Dark Passion and the crashing love ballad Since I Met You. Marathon finale Dark Asteroid, an extended Kraut-psych wig-out jam paying wordless tribute to Syd Barrett, is also one of the most experimental Damned compositions ever.

The three bonus tracks are inessential makeweights, inevitably, though the brooding Half Forgotten Memories is another solid showcase for Vanian’s debonair histrionics.

Stephen Dalton

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.