'Don't You Wish That We Were Dead' [Blu-ray]
(The Damned / Blu-ray+DVD / NR / 2016 / MVD Visual)
Overview: From "Lemmy" filmmaker Wes Orshoski comes the story of the long-ignored pioneers of punk: The Damned, the first U.K. punks on wax and the first to cross the Atlantic.
DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, here's what you should know about these long-ignored pioneers of punk: The Damned are an English rock band formed in London in 1976 by lead vocalist Dave Vanian, guitarist Brian James, bassist (and later guitarist) Captain Sensible, and drummer Rat Scabies.
They were the first punk rock band from the United Kingdom to release a single, "New Rose" (1976), release an album, Damned Damned Damned (1977), and tour the United States. To date they have had nine singles that charted on the UK Singles Chart Top 40 and although the line up has changed over the subsequent years, The Damned are still one of the most influential punk groups to ever have laid a lick down for our pleasure.
'The Damned: Don't You Wish That We Were Dead' - an Official Selection at the SXSW Film Festival 2015 - includes appearances from Chrissie Hynde, Mick Jones (The Clash), Lemmy and members of Pink Floyd, Black Flag, Depeche Mode, the Sex Pistols, Blondie, Buzzcocks, and more. Shot around the globe over three years, the film charts the band's complex history and infighting. It captures the band as it celebrated its 35th anniversary with a world tour and found its estranged former members striking out on their own anniversary tour, while other former members battled cancer.
It all kicks off back in 1977 and follows the rollercoaster that is The Damned all the way through to today. Good times, bad times, weird times, sad times, they are all revealed, one after another here. Much like when says, to the camera, that he doesn't care about the documentary that is being filmed around him, of him, that he doesn't care about being in a group, he just cares about survival.
Combining both color and old school black and white footage to tell the tale of this great band, it's actually the black and white footage that has me mouth open, gobsmacked. For these clips showcase a band, most likely on something, smashing guitars, throwing drum kits at each other, and forgetting lines to songs, time and time again. As is said on screen, "It's going out the door music. It's backdrop's to crimes," and as the late Lemmy himself professes, "The Damned were the first punk band."
As the documentary continues, we learn that The Damned back in the day would do things that might even disgust loyal followers today to hear. Such as reveals like "We'd shimmy across the ledge and get into their room just to shit in their bed," and because "this is a band that don't give a f**k, because we didn't have anything to lose" they thought that either there were no rules, or that they didn't apply to them.
Further into the mix and as Chrissie Hynde (Pretenders) goes on to point out, "They were better musicians than the other bands. Musicianship wasn't a dirty word to them." One by one the guys tell their sides of the story, inclusive of two very poignant statements: "We had everything that we could ever dream of and yet the band somehow still managed to f**k it all up" and "One of us should have died after making one fantastic album." This is a 4:3 Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Captain Sensible & Fred Armisen: Nobody Busks In L.A.
Captain's Tour of Croydon
The Doomed/Henry Badowski
The Anarchy Tour
"Smash It Up"
Live at Captain's 60th Birthday Party (and Around The World)