A sequel to Record Store Tales Part 80: The Darkness
RECORD STORE TALES #947: Last Of Our Kind
By the time that I decided “enough with the bullshit” and quit the Record Store at the end of 2005, The Darkness were truly one of my favourite bands.
The band’s newest album One Way Ticket To Hell…and Back was really resonating with me. It was the kind of triumphant rock that felt appropriate as I started my new life, post-store. Uplifting. Carefree. Nostalgic. I had a Darkness shirt with their logo in silver scroll. I was downloading rare live tracks from Limewire and buying imported singles. All the stuff that properly qualifies a person as a “fan”, but with the additional emotional kick that this was “my” band. I didn’t know anyone else who liked them. Well, there was one. I had just met Jen, my future wife. In her CD collection was a copy of Permission to Land.
Two weeks after quitting the store I was back in the workforce. I had what I wanted: a boring job! There were several days straight of just make photocopies. Nobody to talk to, and with the clanky-clank of the copying drowning me out, I passed the time by singing. Specifically, I sang my favourite Darkness tunes.
The most attractive tunes have the biggest and most bombastic choruses it seems. Huge drum fills, big multi-layered vocals, and all the trimmings. Songs like “Dinner Lady Arms”.
I used to be able to come close to hitting the notes. Just approximating the correct intonation, because who the fuck cared? Nobody could hear me.
Also on the playlist: “Hazel Eyes”, “One Way Ticket”, “Growing On Me”, “Givin’ Up”, and “Friday Night”.
I made a Darkness “Greatest Hits” CD with all those tracks, a bunch of great B-sides, and couple bootleg live tracks. The best of which was a ragged live take of “Givin’ Up”, sadly now lost. That’s the problem with downloads. In the golden glow of memory, it was the best version of the song ever!
Sadly, the Darkness were hitting a rough patch. Justin Hawkins went to rehab to clean up, and then quit the band afterwards. In shock, the band looked inward to new bassist Richie Edwards (who replaced original Frankie Poullain). His surprisingly powerful rasp was perfect for a new start. They reconfigured themselves as the heavier Stone Gods, while Justin launched his new band Hot Leg. In this battle, Hot Leg sounded more like the Darkness, while the Stone Gods had a stronger album in hand.
Lineup changes continued to ensue. Original Darkness drummer Ed Graham left the Stone Gods due to ill health, and was replaced by Robin Goodridge, formerly of Bush. This left guitarist Dan Hawkins as the only Stone Gods member that had been in the Darkness. Regardless, they managed to record a second, more stripped down album. This second album was never released, because suddenly in 2011, the original lineup of the Darkness was back!
The comeback album Hot Cakes returned the band to their classic sound. Most importantly, it was only the first in a series of great albums, the best of which might be 2015’s Last of Our Kind. The title track of which is the most quintessentially “Darkness” of any song they have released since their debut. The music video features Justin Hawkins at his most Freddie, and a new drummer: Rufus Tiger Taylor, son of Queen’s Roger. Talk about rock royalty!
Not to ignore the important contributions of Emily Dolan Davies, who played drums on the album and in the music video for “Open Fire”. As an in-demand session drummer, Davies was praised by Justin as having “revitalized” the band with her hard-hitting style. Since her departure, Rufus has held down the drum stool on Pinewood Smile, Easter is Cancelled and the forthcoming Motorheart.
That’s right. The Darkness have a new album coming. They may or may not have doomed us to a long pandemic with the prophetic Easter is Cancelled, but they sure are going to rock us anyway.
Long live The Darkness!