The Damage

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Having built up a considerable reputation as one of Manchester's most well-known but little-heard bands -- thanks to a combination of Morrissey's unflagging name-checking, Linder's eventual photography work with him on his solo career, and the out-of-print status of the band's various releases -- the release of The Damage was long overdue and incredibly welcome. Presenting a fine overview of the group's career -- selecting from singles, albums, and live shows -- The Damage makes for one entertaining listening from start to stop. Even a cursory listen makes one wonder why in the world nobody had gotten around to re-releasing anything by the group beforehand -- Ludus had to be one of the catchiest, sharpest bands of their time, effortlessly balancing an inspired series of artistic experiments with memorable performances. One can hear the echoes of their time throughout the music -- the giddy sharpness of Girls at Our Best!, the relentless explorations of the Raincoats, the friendly funk experiments of Rip Rig & Panic, and many more besides -- but Ludus distills it all beautifully into one commanding presentation. Linder's singing, sometimes cool but passionate and sometimes a powerful, Yoko Ono-esque wail ("Too Hot to Handle" is especially strong), and her aptness to use wit as directness to convey lyrical points, along with Ian Devine's sprightly guitar, which definitely seems to predict Johnny Marr's adaptations of African highlife at points (check out "Let Me Go Where My Pictures Go") were the equal keys to the band's many artistic successes. Sometimes the occasional synth is a touch too shrill, but it's a minor point -- The Damage is a must-listen, a long overdue reintroduction to a singular band. As is the case with nearly all LTM reissues, label boss James Nice does the collection proud: the sound is crisp and bright, the band biography detailed, and the discography as thorough as one could want. Some of Linder's own striking photo collages help complete the effort.

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