Dec 16, 2022
By Matthew Berlyant
Although the vaunted reissue label Iconoclassic has been mostly known for reissuing long out-of-print titles by ’60s and ’70s stalwarts such as The Guess Who, Laura Nyro, The Isley Brothers, and BT Express, it has also done a yeoman-like job in the past year of reissuing ’80s and ’90s post-punk efforts by the likes of Graham Parker and The Fall as well. Now comes a two-CD reissue of The Damned’s 1982 album Strawberries, their fifth full-length studio album. It was originally issued on Bronze Records, receiving mixed reviews at the time and still somewhat overlooked in their catalog, but now rightly considered one of their very best by those who have dived in. This reissue, the first two-CD reissue of the many CD issues of this album, also happens to be the best sounding digital version by far, foregoing previous mastering brightness, spelling errors (on a previous 2000s single-disc reissue), and adding a full bonus disc consisting of the “Fun Factory” single, various B-sides (including the first ever CD release of “Citadel Zombies”), and five songs from a 1982 gig in Newcastle while keeping the original album on disc one.
If you are reading this and have never heard Strawberries, know that it will fare much closer to 1980’s The Black Album or 1984’s Phantasmagoria as well as some of the related singles from that time period than say 1977’s Damned Damned Damned or even 1979’s trail-blazing goth-punk masterpiece Machine Gun Etiquette. In fact, one could argue that Strawberries was a culmination of an incredible three-album run that started with Machine Gun Etiquette (with The Black Album in the middle), where the Damned peppered their speedy punk rock and unparalleled musical chops with nods to ’60s pop, music hall, hammer horror, classic goth imagery (particularly on “The Dog,” inspired by Anne Rice’s novel Interview with The Vampire years before it’s mid ’90s Hollywood adaptation), psychedelia, Canterbury prog, musique concrete, and anything else they could get their hands on. One may recognize the iconic guitar riff in “Life Goes On” as it was recycled later on by both Killing Joke (for “Eighties”) and eventually Nirvana on “Come As You Are.”
If that still isn’t enough, this new edition features mastering by noted engineer Mark Wilder, design from Psychic TV’s Edward O’Dowd, and brand-new liner notes from Big Takeover editor/publisher Jack Rabid that are well worth reading. In short, this is the definitive edition of perhaps The Damned’s finest album. (www.officialdamned.com)
Author rating: 9/10
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