“Trends come and go, but we just get on with what we do and what we like,” says Ian Ballard, who founded Damaged Goods Records in 1988 and still runs the label from his East London home. To celebrate the label’s 25th anniversary, we asked its most prolific signing, Billy Childish, to pick his favorite 10 albums from its vaults.
Stuart Turnbull interviews Billy Childish about his own drive for music-making — read that here.
Everything you need by this straight-up punk rock band formed in Cambridge, England in 1987.
"Absolute pop clarity, I'd call this. Fire Department were often on the same bill as my band Thee Headcoats, and they were one of the best groups I've ever seen. And nobody got them. They had a very unlikely fellow on the lead vocals, Neil Palmer, who looked like he'd stepped from behind a bank till. People didn't get it because he was not 'cool'. But the world's version of cool isn't cool. It's shit. Neil was absolutely on-the-money — a fantastic vocalist and performer."
2013 album from Billy Childish, featuring his American wife, Julie Hamper, and friends including Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond of The KLF.
"This fulfils everything that I want in a group. The songs are written in the studio, they're basically one-takes; they sound like they've been made by a bunch of 15 year olds, and it's nice and effortless and carefree."
A hard-hitting 26-track mid-'70s monster by the band from Croydon, England, featuring Ray Burns (aka Captain Sensible).
"Johnny Moped were doing stuff with Captain Sensible pre-punk and this is effortless, proper rock 'n' roll. The Damned and the Mopeds were punks from a strictly rock 'n' roll background, without the glam bit. Which is where I come from. It's got free spirit and a lack of worry that I like."
On which Mr Childish duets with East London's horse ridin', rockin' chanteuse. Billy and Holly strip the blues down to its raw bones.
"I wanted to include something with Holly here. In Blood was an idea I had to do an LP with one chord — E — and no add-ons. We recorded it over a couple of days. In Blood reflects a lot of my interest in blues music and the straightforwardness of people like John Lee Hooker."
Debut LP from the punk enthusiasts named after a brand of lavatory pans. Produced by Billy Childish.
"Dick Scum, the guitarist of Armitage Shanks, drove for my band Thee Headcoats. He had a group, and wanted to do some recordings so I went along and produced an album with them. They were really big fans of early punk although they're quite a lot younger than me. They really had a feeling for it and I wanted to help with that; they were such aficionados of the real thing that I wanted to be involved."
Raw garage rock with a primeval edge as Billy hooks up with Neil Palmer of The Fire Dept., Nurse Julie and Wolf Howard.
"I'm a massive fan of Neil Palmer. We recorded three albums because we decided the world didn't need one, so let's do three. The songs are about pre-history and are a celebration of that Troggs pop ethic. It's what prog rock could have been if it was prog pop. We invented prog pop."
British garage rock at its best: raw, immediate and unpolished. The band features Billy Childish, Bruce Brand and John Agnew.
"I like refining things ridiculously, and refining influences down to particular tracks. Thee Mighty Caesars are based on the tracks "From Home" and "Come Now" by The Troggs. I love three-piece bands, because you can't hide behind another guitarist. And that means you are continually vulnerable and it's always funny when someone makes a mistake. That's why we don't rehearse as well — to increase the levity."
The best album from the deerstalker wearing three-piece comprising of Billy Childish (guitar and vocals), Bruce Brand (drums) and Johnny Johnson (bass).
"Bruce, our drummer, did the graphic on that sleeve. I'd say Thee Headcoats are based on "Why Don't You Smile Now" by '60s band Downliners Sect, one of the greatest rock 'n' roll groups of all time. My god, the Downliners Sect's first few LPs — now that was British beat music at its height. They had that Bo Diddley quality of being able to laugh about themselves while doing something seriously."
Debut album by the Chatham-born singer-songwriter that takes in soul, country, blues and rockabilly. Neat, uplifting pop from the Medway Delta.
"Pete was a local kid who was in some sort of Oasis band called Slipstream and then he started doing his own thing, standalone acoustic pieces. He wanted to do some recording and had already done some in a studio that was bit studio-ey. So I said, 'You should record it 'round my house on the old Revox G36 in the kitchen, and I'll get the performances out of you. It'll be a performance-led record.' With the G36 there's no hiding and no hiding is the way that we work when we record, without a mixing desk in the way."
In their own words: "The Loins' songwriting is steeped in the British and European traditions of punk, folk, music hall, character, cabaret, melodrama and buffoonery. Singing tales of underdogs, suicides, circus freaks, the bereaved, frustrated and heart-broken, the washed up and mentally ill."
"My mate Chris Broderick was writing some poetry and I run a small press, Hangman Books. He came to me and asked me to help him publish his poetry. Then he got a group together doing English folk and asked if I could record it, and The Complete & Utter was recorded in my old bathroom on a tape recorder. If people need to know how to get a record out, they know who to come to. But they don't necessarily return. Let it be noted. They don't necessarily return. Once they've stood squarely on my face, then they move on."