3 August 2022

Dansette Damage - 2001 and three quarters Approximately/ Must Be Love

Soulful, bluesy New Wave musings from 1980

Label: Pinnacle
Year of Release: 1980

Birmingham's Dansette Damage must surely qualify as the only punk band to have put out a single produced by Robert Plant (albeit under a pseudonym - they had to be mysterious, those punk punters wouldn't have touched a Led Zeppelin affiliated 45 with yours, mate). Only 2,500 copies of "The Only Sound/ NME" were pressed up, and it's a beefy, thuggish, stomping effort which has deservedly attracted some attention over the years, and not just for the Wolverhampton Wanderer's help.

Less has been said about their Plantless follow-up single, issued on the indie distributor Pinnacle's own label a couple of years later, and perhaps that's because stylistically it couldn't be further apart. It's a much more polished piece of moody, bluesy, strutting New Wave which combines surreal and dystopian lyrical imagery with impassioned female backing vocals. Without doing anything particularly unorthodox musically across its three-and-a-half minutes, it's an uneasy piece of work and the band (or songwriter and singer Colin Hall) have tried to point out the coincidence that the year 2001 and three quarters would, of course, be 1st September 2001, very close to 9/11. 

Personally, I think that's stretching a coincidence to breaking point and there are few signs that the group were the Nostradamuses of New Wave in the lyrics; those references to keyhole peepers, skyscrapers and jailbreakers are very trad rock indeed and could have formed part of a Thin Lizzy track. Nonetheless, despite its commercial production and dogged groove it still manages to convey a deep sense of paranoid menace without once descending into rockisms. It certainly doesn't scream "daytime radio", which is probably why it wasn't even close to being a hit.

Some favours were clearly pulled, however, and the beginnings of a promo video were created by the crew for the TV soap "Crossroads" before the plug was pulled.

Two very different line-ups of Dansette Damage were in existence, with the "Only Sound" incarnation being a fairly inflated set-up. By the point of this single, they apparently consisted of Eddie Blower on keyboards, Steve Hall on guitar and vocals, Colin Hall on vocals, bass and keyboards and Les Salcombe on drums. They morphed into the group Swing Music after this 45, who do not appear to have released any recorded output.

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