Damage – Since You’ve Been Gone

Album Reviews by MARK BAYROSS and EDF

Review by Mark Bayross

With a name like Damage and a collection of sullen shade-wearing Black Panther style homeboys staring out of the cover of this album, you would think that this record kicked major ass.

Recent singles GHETTO ROMANCE and RUMOURS gave the game away. SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE is not a feral Public Enemy-style assault on the senses, nor is it an intelligent analysis of post-modern life à la TLC. It’s just the same old r n’ b mush you’ll have heard a million times before.

Damage claim that “Each time we go into the studio we give it our best. We keep trying to reinvent ourselves, new sounds, new vocal harmonies, because striving to remain original is the most important thing.”

Well, for a start, this is their second album since they formed ten years ago, so it’s not like they’ve been hogging the studio. Secondly, they’ve assembled an army of writers and producers whose credits include the likes of Chaka Khan, Young Disciples, Mary J Blige and TLC, yet, apart from the odd inspired looped sample (YOU’RE SO FLY, GOOD FOLK), and the occasional inclusion of strings (FOR YOUR PLEASURE) or Spanish guitar (MARIA), this is tediously trite stuff.

With the usual vocal histrionics and playground love letter lyrics, Damage have failed to move the R&B world one iota in any direction that could be vaguely described as “original”.

One last thing: it’s not us who’ve been gone, guys, it’s you. Now go away again.

2 stars

Review by EDF

Oh dear. Formed ten years ago and three years after releasing their debut album FOREVER, the opening track THE JOURNEY, highlights their career so far which seems to have brought them “No Love From Others”. Swiftly ignoring this, ballads such as STILL BE LOVIN’ YOU, TEARS and SO WHAT IF I highlight how well these five guys can harmonise. We are even treated to a cover of Earth Wind and Fire’s AFTER THE LOVE HAS GONE, which does not stray too far from the original version. On the funkier side of things is SURE NUFF, where the group has “Got A Thing For Ya”, I’m sure. That’s about the most exciting thing from this bland, tuneless song. Just as well we are saved with tracks like FOR YOUR PLEASURE. Noteworthy on this album are the various collaborations with the likes of Siamese, Emma Bunton, JP and Kele Le Roc. These four tracks are probably the highlights on the whole album and for an album with sixteen tracks on it, at least half are worth bothering with.

What the problem might be could have something to do with the number of writers and producers, which Damage had selected, from both sides of the Atlantic to be involved with the album. Coree was quoted as saying that Damage had “developed a lot creatively”. While there is a lot going for Damage to be in the forefront of the British R&B scene, they will have to take control of the material and come up with some quality songs themselves. With the likes of Craig David causing a storm at the moment, Damage will have to plan their next move very carefully. The only saving grace here is the collaborations and some of the ballads. Shame really.

3 stars

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