New Rose

Album: Damned Damned Damned (1976)


  • Recorded at Islington's Pathway Studios for £50 and running a tidy 2:46, "New Rose" was the debut single by The Damned. Released on October 22, 1976, it beat the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy In The U.K." to the shops by over a month to become what is generally recognized as the UK's first punk single. The Sex Pistols had been around longer, but The Damned beat them to vinyl. One of the first Damned concerts was opening for The Sex Pistols on July 6, 1976, at the 100 Club in London. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England
  • Early on, Damned guitarist Brian Jones was their principal songwriter, and he wrote "New Rose." Unlike other UK punk upstarts, Jones stayed away from politics, preferring to write songs about love or escapism, just at a hyperkinetic tempo. "New Rose" is filled with energy and excitement, with lead singer Dave Vanian over the moon:

    I never thought this could happen to me
    I feel strange, why should it be?

    Brian James explained the meaning when he told Mojo magazine February 2013: "Everyone thinks 'New Rose' is about a girl or a new relationship but it's not. It was about this emerging scene, this lovely buzz that you'd never dreamed could possibly happen. It was like. 'I'd got my own Swinging '60s,' that sorta vibe."
  • This was released on the Stiff label backed by a cover of The Beatles' "Help!" It appeared on the debut Damned album, Damned Damned Damned.
  • Nick Lowe produced this track along with the rest of the first Damned album. It was recorded at Pathway, an 8-track studio in London with few amenities. Lowe's production style leaves little room for refinement but can capture a live feel; he was a perfect fit for The Damned, who had been leaving crowds gobsmacked with their frenetic energy. In a Songfacts interview with lead singer Dave Vanian, he explained: "It was an amazing experience because the idea was to capture the essence of the band - the live essence of the band. And if we had a big fancy producer, a big studio, and spent time, I don't think we would have gotten that. Instead, you got this perfect encapsulation of seeing that band live, and it was an explosion of sound that was very rudimentary in production. In fact, no production - just the volume was set. I remember singing in the hallway because there was too much of the music coming into my microphone. I had to sing out there with the door shut, and it was still very loud because everything was full volume. There was barely enough room for the band when we recorded it, but it was a fantastic experience."
  • Vocalist Dave Vanian's deadpan intro - "Is she really going out with him?" - is in homage to The Shangri-Las' 1964 hit "Leader of the Pack," which opens with that spoken line:

    Is she really going out with him?
    Well, there she is. Let's ask her.

    In 1979, Joe Jackson asked the same question.
  • Guns N' Roses covered this on their 1993 album The Spaghetti Incident. Other acts to cover it include Rachel Sweet and Orange Goblin.


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