Damnation

Which Is the Justice, Which Is the Thief

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Though this was the first album they issued as Damnation, Second Damnation does, in fact, feature the same band that played on the earlier two albums credited to the Damnation of Adam Blessing. It's the source of some controversy among both Damnation and their fans, due to the addition of string and horn arrangements by members of the Cleveland Orchestra into which the group had no input. While it's unfortunate they didn't have creative control of this part of the production, to be honest, the orchestration makes it more interesting, and certainly more haunting, than many similar early-'70s records by okay-but-not-great hard rock bands. Damnation (or the Damnation of Adam Blessing, if you prefer) always did have a lighter touch than most other early-'70s hard rock groups, and made better use of background vocal harmonies than most such acts, so the collaboration isn't as incongruous as it might seem on paper. The original material with added orchestration included some of their best songs, such as the riddling lyric of "Fingers on a Windmill," and the Gregorian chant-tinged instrumental "Turned to Stone." Listeners who like the band because of their hard rock will find the curtain-closing "Sweet Dream Lady" excessive, but actually it's a quite tuneful farewell ballad that avoids over-sentimentality. Some of the tracks without orchestration are pretty respectable too, particularly the tough, mildly funky hard rock of "We Don't Need It." The highlight, though, has to be "Sometimes I Feel Like I Just Can't Go On," a down-and-out blues on which Blessing's vocals are a match for the best anguished blue-eyed soul belters, à la Lonnie Mack or Roy Head. Blessing's performance on this track is the best aspect of anything the group recorded, though unfortunately it wasn't a path they explored elsewhere.

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