The Damned

Black Is the Night: The Definitive Anthology

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The first Damned compilation album, The Best of the Damned, appeared in 1981, when the pioneering punk upstarts had been recording for all of five years. Since then, there have been plenty of box sets, multi-disc anthologies, and rarities collections documenting every nook and cranny of the group's career as they've slipped into their fourth decade. So how badly does the world need one more? That is a question each fan can only answer for themselves, and the title of 2019's Black Is the Night: The Definitive Anthology sounds a bit more boastful than accurate. Arguably the best and most satisfying overview of the Damned's body of work, The Light at the End of the Tunnel, was released in 1990, and if nothing else, Black Is the Night delivers a useful update, covering their surprisingly lively release schedule in the '90s, '00s, and '10s along with the acknowledged classics of the '70s and '80s. Like The Light at the End of the Tunnel, Black Is the Night is sequenced thematically instead of chronologically, which means you have to wait until the midpoint of disc one to get their classic Stiff Records sides from 1977, while the 2001 comeback Grave Disorder has already been represented. However, the track listing does make sense of the often elusive through line of the Damned's history, as Dave Vanian's showman's vocals, Captain Sensible's clever melodies, and their smarter-than-you-think wit unites the music as they travel from punk to garage rock to hard rock to pop to goth to a few pit stops in between. The presence of some examples of their more recent work shows they're still in touch with their various muses, and for all their sonic shape-shifting, this is a far more consistent listening experience than one would expect. The set also includes informative and entertaining liner notes as well as Pete Frame's brilliant Damned family tree, though you'll want to break out a magnifying glass if you want to read them. If anyone is still waiting to be introduced to the Damned, Black Is the Night does an admirable job of sussing out the high (or higher) points of their many eras, and for fans, it makes for a fine trip down memory lane with a few pleasant surprises.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 02:21 Amazon
2 03:51 Amazon
3 03:23 Amazon
4 03:43 Amazon
5 03:48 Amazon
6 03:21 Amazon
7 03:17 Amazon
8 03:21 Amazon
9 04:52 Amazon
10 02:07 Amazon
11 05:13 Amazon
12 02:42 Amazon
13 02:40 Amazon
14 02:12 Amazon
15 02:29 Amazon
16 02:35 Amazon
17 03:41 Amazon
18 02:12 Amazon
19 03:06 Amazon
20 01:50 Amazon
21 01:48 Amazon
22 03:19 Amazon
23 02:55 Amazon
24 03:16 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick