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Baker's Dozen

The Quest For The Grail: Rat Scabies Favourite Albums
Ben Graham , March 7th, 2018 12:49

The former Damned drummer tells Ben Graham about seeing bands at the Orchid Ballroom in Purley, the appeal of repetition and variety in music, and how The Damned nearly got their own Monkees-style TV show


The Monkees- Meet The Monkees
I had this back in the days when The Monkees were a TV show and they were everybody's favourite. Every Saturday you'd rush home to watch them. Bear in mind that television then was three channels, and so pop music in any sense was really limited. There was Ready Steady Go on a Friday, Top Of The Pops had started, but you didn't get a lot. You didn't get a lot of kids with guitars, especially with long hair and flared trousers that were glamorously American. But the real thing came when the tunes that they had were so good. Every week you watched the show and every week there'd be a great song at the end. You had to have one of their records, and this was the album that I had.

There are so many varying styles of songs on this record. You'd go from syrupy ballads to something a lot tougher, but most of the character in the work was really about the melodies and the tunes, many of which were written by Neil Diamond and people like that. It was weird that there was that whole stable of people sat in an office from 9-5, writing tunes. But they understood how it worked and how to do it, whereas with The Damned, for example, we didn't really get arrangements or dynamics when we tried to write until later on. But when you heard that variation in, if you like, quality music- and it was quality music, The Monkees, even though saying that would've got you hung back in the 70s- it made it okay to be diverse. So when The Damned moved on and we started getting to Machine Gun Etiquette and Strawberries and those kinds of records it was fair game to do something that wasn't a raucous three chord punk song, because we'd grown up with all of these bands that I'm talking about, and actually they all seemed to show an element of that. So it rubbed off.

It's just a shame that The Damned never got a Monkees-style TV series of their own, all living together in the same house and having adventures.

There was an idea for it at one point, when we were at Chiswick Records. They were going to have us followed round because we used to get into quite a few adventures. I dread to think.