Halloween songs no. 12: The Damned – “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”

The Black AlbumThe Damned were one of the original British punk rock groups (their 1976 “New Rose” was the UK’s first punk single), but moved in more psychedelic and post-punk directions within just a few years. While the other guys in the band very much looked the part of late-’70s British punk rockers (colored hair, torn pants, lots of buttons & safety pins), singer Dave Vanian dressed like Dracula, even early on: white face paint, black eyeliner & lipstick, and a puffy shirt with a black cape. He’d worked as a gravedigger prior to joining the band, and took his nom de punk as a play on “Transylvanian” (he was born David Lett).

With Vanian looking like he’d just walked off the set of Dark Shadows, it’s not surprising that the band eventually took a turn for the gothic. Their fourth LP, commonly called The Black Album (1980) was the first big step in this direction. with songs like “Wait for the Blackout” and “13th Floor Vendetta”. I chose “Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde” as the most obviously Halloween-y cut, although the band’s gothiest album is probably 1985’s Phantasmagoria. This clip is set to stills from the 1931 film version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Robert Louis Stevenson classic has been adapted for film many times, but this is the famous version that earned lead actor Fredric March the Academy Award for Best Actor and birthed the iconic depiction of Hyde, with its sophisticated special effects used in the transformation scenes.

I’m normal outside
He’s evil inside
I’m Dr. Jekyll and he’s Mr. Hyde
I try to be true
He tries to be cruel
I’ll hold you gently but he’ll smother you

My clothes will impress you
And my claws will undress you

I’m normal outside
He’s evil inside
I’m Dr. Jekyll and he’s Mr. Hyde
I want what’s right
He walks in the night
Searching for sin in his decadent life

My charms will beguile you
And my arms will defile you

Me, I’m on the side of the angels
But the Devil is my best friend
Sin is a way of life
Saints are for suckers
Welcome to the underworld
I start where nightmares end
Two for the price of one
Two for the price of one


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