Noise Noise Noise (Castle/Sanctuary)
by Martin Popoff
Castle have proven themselves expert repackagers of punk and NWOBHM oldies, and here they are addressing the most lovable of the loud punk bands, a band of many firsts, most notably first punk album. Noise Noise Noise is a tidy clamshell box set comprising five CDs, the material of which frankly would’ve fit on three. Much of this is recycled live grist, but it’s nice to have ‘er all in one place with a 12-page booklet housing all the track info, the requisite brief bio, and a few seldom-seen band shots.
The Damned re-prove themselves a treasure of a live band, propelled from below by Rat Scabies’ manic Keith Moon-like drum bashing. As well, through these five shows, beginning with a ’77 date showing off the band’s controversial second album, Music For Pleasure, through to the Gothic ’88 period, one gets way more than album tracks, including a plethora of B-side and rarity material, alongside the band’s revved-up covers of traditional garage and rock ‘n’ roll and pre-punk classics. Dave Vanian is the consummate frontman, and his quips betray the self-deprecating sass it took to keep punk crowds in line, but also to keep them on your side and laughing along with the noise noise noise of it all. All told, what falls out of this brash and screeching collection is a sense of how good – and diverse – The Damned were as songwriters, not to mention how explosive and instinctual they were as a live band.