Tuesday, 27 July 2010

I Said Captain, I Said Wot?

Captain Sensible, founder member of one of the most important acts of the last four decades, The Damned, all-round stand-up guy (by all accounts) and the purveyor of a slew of interesting, occasionally terrible but often highly enjoyable solo releases - including the UK number 1 Happy Talk and it's follow up, the rather wonderful Wot? What's not to like?

This, that's what (or Wot)! A frightful and totally pointless cover version of the Frankie Goes to Hollywood classic Relax, even more appalling than the red beret-wearing Raymond Burns' terrible take on Elton Motello's Jet Boy Jet Girl (later reinterpreted by Plastic Bertrand  as Ca Plane Pour Moi). And that's not even mentioning his piss-awful (although charity-inspired, folks) recording of the Hokey Cokey, his snooker quiz show theme tune or his grave-stomping remake of Smash It Up (parts 1, 2, 3 AND 4, for Christssake).

This particular crime against the ears turned up on his eighth solo single, the November 1984 (that's just a few months after the original FGTH version was a hit) release One Christmas Catalogue.

The Captain has been responsible (or at least partly responsible) for some of the greatest records of the punk and New Wave era - the original Smash It Up, New Rose, the remarkable Strawberries album and so on, and The Damned hold the distinction of being the first punk band to release a single (New Rose), an album (Damned Damned Damned), to have a hit in the UK charts and to tour the United States. Splitting up and reforming on a number of occasions with varying lineups (and varying success) the Captain is once again a member of the band and they're still touring and recording to this day.

Kudos to anyone who can survive 35 years in this industry and still turn up on stage every night to play, but his solo career has hit some unbelievably dismal low points - including this one. Anyone who can squeeze the phrase "What d'you fuckin' want, shithead" on to the a-side of a hit single is alright with me, but in the case of Relax I've got to say 'Hey Ray, put a beret in it!'


  1. This one is a head-scratcher!
    Was he trying to duplicate Relax's huge success, or did he just really like the song, and recorded it as an homage? Either way, i couldn't get past the first few minutes. The american tv(?) snippets are an example of early cut-and-paste sampling techniques though, i would imagine.

  2. Youtube link:


  3. Captain's tale of how the song came into being is far more engaging than the actual tune itself.

  4. Friend dumped his beaten up copy of this 12" on me. I actually like the song "Wot"....the other side? Total dross from 1 to 9.

  5. The original 12" I had included a fuzzy, cotton-like beard on the sleeve. In the drawn in area.
    It's well worth it for One Christmas Catalogue which is a holiday favourite in my home. Ok, in my mind.
    In my old club dj days I dared a colleague to play Relax. He did and the crowd stayed bored.

  6. I am sure this came out BEFORE 'Relax', Happy Talk was 1982 and this was a quicko follow-up---Relax never got released until '83.

    1. Sorry Rab: the follow up to Happy Talk was Wot (Catalogue number CAP 2), although the Crass and Jet Boy singles came before all of them. Christmas catalogue is CAP 8, with his cover of Relax on the flip


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