The Damned: Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead
directed by Wes Orshoski
starring Dave Vanian and Raymond Ian Burns
Out come the aging punks and the younger musical historians; this new punk rock doc drips of fun, entertainment and the debauched life style we all longed for. Back in the fetid London scene of 1976 the Ramones played a famous Fourth of July set at London’s Roundhouse; rumor has it that everyone in the audience started a band when they got home. First out of the gate was The Damned, a bunch of party animals that hit hard, fast and early. They had an album in the stores and up the charts while everyone else was just tuning up, and they set the standard for everything punk from style to alcohol consumption. They also rotated bass players faster than girlfriends; only Goth prototype Dave Vanian stuck it out the whole time. He appears often enough in this movie but it’s Captain Sensible (Raymond Ian Burns) who does most of the talking.
You’ve got the usual spats about contracts and band mates and just how much debauchery was acceptable. What makes this documentary work is the sheer energy of the band and of Sensible and his tales of cleaning toilets and touring and making it big and falling from grace. The story telling is generally excellent although the last half hour of the film could go away; there are two concert numbers and after the first I was jazzed about their post-fame music. But the chatter in the last half hour adds little insight and can easily be cut. I loved this band, and I love this documentary, but sometimes things you love can still be improved upon.