Wes Orshoski, who is not unknown among documentary aficionados as he directed Lemmy, which sheds light on the times of trials and times of Mr Kilmister, is also the narrator telling the story of The Damned.
The Damned were one of the UK’s punk pioneers as they were one of the first outfits to not only have their emissions pressed onto vinyl but subsequently managed to make appearances in the new world.
The title of the DVD, i.e. Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead, is an extract from their hit “Machine Gun Etiquette” and proves to be an appropriate choice as the DVD chronicles the road of the band’s complex history, which is paved with inner band animosities, strokes of fate and other vicissitudes not only in the early phase of the band, but also as it celebrated its 35th anniversary tour.
The caliber of guest appearances and commentators that have been influenced by The Damned ranging from contemporaries like members of the Sex Pistols and the Buzzcocks via Lemmy and Depeche Mode to many other luminaries from the 1970/80s that evolved from the realm of punk rock speaks volumes about the band’s importance and influence.
The Damned had many incarnations, been on many labels and even more arguments, in its longstanding forty year history.
Given that factotum along with their long career, illuminating each fact and pleasing everyone would have been a task difficult to achieve.
Orshoski focuses mainly on the original line-up and manages to hit the major milestones, yet misses out on chunks of the later history.
The documentary premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in 2015 and the fact that Dave Vanian did not make an appearance and Captain Sensible heckled at the top of his lungs with on-going commentary is testament to inner band turmoils that never got resolved.
What makes the documentary appealing is the way Orshoski allows each personality to unfold in an uncensored and often ludicrous manner, including vitriolic diatribes and rants from bitter ex-members, mixing it with facts and at times channeling it through a nostalgia tinted lense.
A documentary that does justice to an unpredictable band that is still going strong – check our recent live review of their 2017 incarnation – and one that offers something enlightening and entertaining even for an audience that is not familiar with The Damned’s legacy at all.
7.5 / 10
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