The Black Album (The Damned album)

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The Black Album
Studio album by The Damned
Released 3 November 1980 CWK3015
Recorded May–June & 26 July 1980
Genre Punk rock, gothic rock, psychedelic rock
Length 77:42
Label Chiswick
The Damned chronology
Machine Gun Etiquette
(1979)Machine Gun Etiquette1979
The Black Album
Singles from The Black Album
  1. "The History of the World (Part 1)"
    Released: September 1980
  2. "Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde"
    Released: 13 February 1981
  3. "Wait for the Blackout"
    Released: 6 May 1982
  4. "Lively Arts"
    Released: 10 October 1982

The Black Album was the fourth album by the Damned, and the first to feature Paul Gray on bass guitar.

It was released in 3 November 1980 on Chiswick as a double album, with "Curtain Call" filling the whole of side 3, and a selection of live tracks recorded at Shepperton Studios for Damned fan club members on side 4.

The song "13th Floor Vendetta" paid tribute to the film The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), opening with the lyrics "...the organ plays to midnight on Maldine Square tonight".[1]


The Black Album represented a change in the career of the group and an expansion of their sound. AllMusic critic Ned Raggett noted that "some of the numbers show the band following their original punk vein, but by this point the four...were leaving straight, three-chord thrash to the cul-de-sac revivalists", and that it was "a chance for the band to try everything from straightforward rock to gentler atmospherics".[2] Raggett described "Wait for a Blackout" as a "dramatic psych/punk surge" with "overtly-serious goth affectations", and qualified "Drinking About My Baby" as "goofy but still enjoyable". Captain Sensible later said that Dave Vanian's vocals were moving to a darker direction, and stated "It is goth; we didn't set out to do that but that is just the way it is. He did have a hearse, he was a grave digger".[3]


The Damned's Chiswick back catalogue was acquired by Big Beat in 1981, and The Black Album was reissued in August 1982 as a single album that omitted "Curtain Call" and the live tracks. The artwork for the reissue parodied the sleeve of the Beatles' The White Album, rendered in black with no details other than the group's name embossed in capitals. "It was said that the Beatles had their White Album, we had our Black Album", said Vanian. "The sleeve isn't related to the Beatles in any way". However, Scabies said: "Of course it was to do with the Beatles, I was so sick about the debates of what we should have on the front of it. I said: 'Put the thing in a plain black sleeve and we'll have a go at the Beatles and The White Album'". The live tracks were reissued in their own right, with four extra tracks, as Live Shepperton 1980.

The first subsequent reissue of The Black Album on CD reinstated "Curtain Call" and the original artwork, and the 2005 double-CD reissue also reinstated the live tracks.


The 28-date Black Album UK tour began in November 1980,[4] with reformed 1970s streetpunk band the Straps as support.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars [2]

In a retrospective review, AllMusic called the album hit-or-miss, but added that "tracks of note are still thick on the ground" and that "it's still a surprisingly good blast, a tour de force for Vanian particularly".[2]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Rat Scabies/Captain Sensible/Paul Gray/Dave Vanian except * by Scabies/Sensible/Gray/Vanian/Billy Karloff, ** by Scabies/Sensible/Gray/Vanian/Giovanni Dadomo.

Side 1[edit]

  1. "Wait for the Blackout" – 3:57 *
  2. "Lively Arts" – 2:59
  3. "Silly Kids Games" – 2:35
  4. "Drinking About My Baby" – 3:04
  5. "Twisted Nerve" – 4:39
  6. "Hit or Miss" – 2:37

Side 2[edit]

  1. "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" – 4:35 **
  2. "Sick of This and That" – 1:50
  3. "The History of the World (Part 1)" – 3:45
  4. "13th Floor Vendetta" – 5:05
  5. "Therapy" – 6:12

Side 3[edit]

  1. "Curtain Call" – 17:13

Side 4[edit]

All songs written by Scabies/Sensible/Vanian/Algy Ward except ** by Scabies/Sensible/Vanian/Ward/Dadomo, ‡ by Brian James.

The song titled "Second Time Around" was also known as "Machine Gun Etiquette", the title track from the band's previous album.

  1. "Love Song" [Live] – 2:10
  2. "Second Time Around" [Live] – 1:46
  3. "Smash It Up (Parts 1 & 2)" [Live] – 4:24
  4. "New Rose" [Live] – 1:49 ‡
  5. "I Just Can't Be Happy Today" [Live] – 3:55 **
  6. "Plan 9 Channel 7" [Live] – 5:12

Deluxe Edition[edit]

Disc 1[edit]

  1. "Wait for the Blackout" – 3:57
  2. "Lively Arts" – 2:59
  3. "Silly Kids Games" – 2:35
  4. "Drinking About My Baby" – 3:04
  5. "Twisted Nerve" – 4:39
  6. "Hit or Miss" – 2:37
  7. "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" – 4:35
  8. "Sick of This and That" – 1:50
  9. "The History of the World (Part 1)" – 3:45
  10. "13th Floor Vendetta" – 5:05
  11. "Therapy" – 6:12
  12. "Curtain Call" – 17:13

Disc 2[edit]

  1. "Love Song (Live)" – 2:10
  2. "Second Time Around (Live)" – 1:46
  3. "Smash It Up (Parts 1 & 2) (Live)" – 4:24
  4. "New Rose (Live)" – 1:49
  5. "I Just Can't Be Happy Today (Live)" – 3:55
  6. "Plan 9 Channel 7 (Live)" – 5:12
  7. "White Rabbit" - 3:00
  8. "Rabid (Over You)" – 3:44
  9. "Seagulls" - 2:36
  10. "The History of the World (Part 1) (Single Version)" – 3:48
  11. "I Believe the Impossible" - 2:54
  12. "Sugar and Spite" - 1:30
  13. "There Ain't No Sanity Clause" - 2:29
  14. "Looking At You" [Live] - 5:51
  15. "White Rabbit (Extended Version - Original Mix)" - 5:24


The Damned



  1. ^ The Damned - the Chaos Years: An Unofficial Biography by Barry Hutchinson
  2. ^ a b c AllMusic review
  3. ^ Louie Bones. "Interview with captain sensible". "". 11 November 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011
  4. ^ "The Damned: Live Performances". Retrieved 2015-10-31.