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  • Writer's pictureBig Rick Stuart

Pop music needs a new kick up the arse, says the Damned’s punk pioneer

Updated: Feb 24, 2020

Brian James of The Damned born Feb 18 1955

Punk icons are in their 60's!

As his 1976 anthem New Rose is hailed as a milestone, Brian James explains why another blast of fresh air is well overdue.

It was the first punk single, a tune that influenced a generation of young people disaffected by early 70s manufactured pop and rock. Now the man who wrote New Rose, hailed by one critic as “the absolute redefinition of all that rock’n’roll held dear, a stunning return to basics which threw every last iota of expertise and experience to the winds”, is to receive a lifetime achievement award at the so-called Punk Oscars.

New Rose is widely credited with being the song that launched the punk/new wave movement in the mid-1970s, and was covered by the likes of Guns N’ Roses and even Depeche Mode.

The appeal of the track spread far beyond Brussels. Even in conflict-torn Belfast, groups like the Damned inspired teenagers such as Paul Burgess to form bands. Burgess, founder of Ruefrex’, (Wikipedia Ruefrex)) drummer and now novelist said: “My God … New Rose! If you were 17 and immersed in music then the energy and defiant insolence of Brian James’s song, set to a three-chord two-and-a-half minute package, was like mother’s milk. It was a perfect storm of rebellion, belonging and purpose where none had existed before.” James believes the contemporary era of X Factor-style manufactured pop stars and bands who don’t write their own songs calls for another punk-style pushback. “Back in 76, New Rose was a kick up the arse for the music industry. Which is why I am proud of the song and the way it’s getting recognition. This business needs another giant kick up the behind now,” he said.

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