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4 Sep 2016

Damnation “Which Is the Justice, Which Is the Thief” 1971 US Psych Rock

Damnation “Which Is the Justice, Which Is the Thief” 1971 US Psych Rock 


watch interview by psychedelic baby...

Cleveland acid rock combo the Damnation of Adam Blessing was formed in 1968 from the ashes of a pair of local garage bands, the Society and Dust; led by frontman Adam Blessing (Bill Constable), the group also included guitaristsJim Quinn and Bob Kalamasz, bassist Ray Benich, and drummer Bill Schwark. After months of relentless local gigging -- often as the opener for hometown heroes the James Gang -- the Damnation of Adam Blessing signed to United Artists and issued their self-titled debut LP in 1969, followed by a tour in support of the Faces. Second Damnation followed a year later, generating the minor hit "Back to the River"; with their third album, 1971's Which Is Justice, Which Is the Thief, Schwark was replaced by Blessing's drummer brother Ken Constable. In 1973, the group renamed itself Glory, releasing a self-titled LP on the UA subsidiary Avalanche before disbanding. The Italian reissue imprint Akarma re-released all of the Damnation of Adam Blessing's albums in the early to mid-2000s as either straight-up re-releases or with additional bonus tracks. The label even released a reissue of the obscure Glory album and offered deluxe vinyl pressings of most of the CDs as well.....

Though this was the first album they issued as Damnation, Second Damnation does, in fact, feature the same band that played on the earlier two albums credited to the Damnation of Adam Blessing. It’s the source of some controversy among both Damnation and their fans, due to the addition of string and horn arrangements by members of the Cleveland Orchestra into which the group had no input. While it’s unfortunate they didn’t have creative control of this part of the production, to be honest, the orchestration makes it more interesting, and certainly more haunting, than many similar early-‘70s records by okay-but-not-great hard rock bands. Damnation (or the Damnation of Adam Blessing, if you prefer) always did have a lighter touch than most other early-'70s hard rock groups, and made better use of background vocal harmonies than most such acts, so the collaboration isn’t as incongruous as it might seem on paper. The original material with added orchestration included some of their best songs, such as the riddling lyric of “Fingers on a Windmill,” and the Gregorian chant-tinged instrumental “Turned to Stone.” Listeners who like the band because of their hard rock will find the curtain-closing “Sweet Dream Lady” excessive, but actually it’s a quite tuneful farewell ballad that avoids over-sentimentality. Some of the tracks without orchestration are pretty respectable too, particularly the tough, mildly funky hard rock of “We Don’t Need It.” The highlight, though, has to be “Sometimes I Feel Like I Just Can’t Go On,” a down-and-out blues on which Blessing’s vocals are a match for the best anguished blue-eyed soul belters, à la Lonnie Mack or Roy Head. Blessing’s performance on this track is the best aspect of anything the group recorded, though unfortunately it wasn’t a path they explored elsewhere….by allmusic….. 

Damnation was the same Cleveland band previously known as the Damnation of Adam Blessing, who issued two albums on United Artists in 1969-1970. Why the name was shortened remains a mystery and has fouled up the consistency/accuracy of both Damnation and Damnation of Adam Blessing discographies ever since. Basically, however, the group’s third album (Which Is the Justice, Which Is the Thief?) was credited to Damnation, not the Damnation of Adam Blessing, though it makes sense to consider both the Damnation of Adam Blessing and Damnation the same act. To backtrack, then, the Damnation of Adam Blessing formed in Cleveland in the late '60s, including veterans of the garage bands the Alarm Clocks (who did a single with future Damnation drummer Bill Schwark), and the Society (with future Damnation singer Adam Blessing, aka Bill Constable). By 1968 the Damnation of Adam Blessing was formed, taking the name from a list of books in the back of a Ray Bradbury novel; Constable himself took the name of Adam Blessing. (Blessing actually didn’t see the 1961 pulp novel The Damnation of Adam Blessing until a couple years later, when the author, Marijane Meaker, gave it to him personally backstage at a New York gig.) Their 1969 United Artists self-titled LP – above average, early hard rock mixed with some psychedelia, pop, and folk-rock – was very popular in Cleveland and made number 181 in the national charts. On their second album, 1970’s The Second Damnation, they went into a more determinedly hard rock direction, still featuring the powerful, husky vocals of Blessing and deploying vocal harmonies with more taste and subtlety than many similar outfits did. For reasons that the band doesn’t remember – they believe it was the decision of the record label and/or management – their name was changed from the Damnation of Adam Blessing to just Damnation for their third and last album, 1971’s Which Is the Justice, Which Is the Thief? (Shortly prior to this, Blessing’s brother Ken Constable had joined as additional vocalist; he’d made contributions to the prior two albums under pseudonyms.) To their dismay, most of the tracks were overlaid with orchestration by members of the Cleveland Orchestra, the band having no say in the string and horn arrangements. Despite that, the album – and even the orchestration – isn’t bad, though like all releases by the Damnation of Adam Blessing/Damnation, it’s erratic. The blend of early-'70s hard rock and haunting orchestration makes it more interesting than many hard rock-based albums from the era. There’s also room for some of the mild eclecticism that characterized all of their work, like the tense soul-blues of “Sometimes I Feel Like I Just Can’t Go On” (with a superb vocal by Blessing), the quirky Eastern-psychedelic-influenced instrumental “Turned to Stone,” and the lush folky balladry of “Sweet Dream Lady.” The Damnation album didn’t chart, and though the band did record another LP, they did it under the name of Glory (for 1973’s Glory). Glory broke up shortly afterward, all of the band remaining involved in music in some capacity, though never with the visibility (albeit limited, certainly on a national scale) they’d enjoyed with the Damnation of Adam Blessing/Damnation. Sadly, bassist Ray Benich served nearly two decades in prison in the 1980s and 1990s, though he was released in late 1999, and the Damnation of Adam Blessing reunited for a few shows (including one in Cleveland at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) in 2000. ~ Richie Unterberger …… 

(1969) - The Damnation of Adam Blessing 
(1970) - The Second Damnation 
(1971) - Which Is The Justice,Which Is The Thief 
(1973) - Glory 


Fingers On A Windmill 3:17 
We Don’t Need It 2:58 
Easy Come, Easy Go 3:46 
Running Away 4:42 
Turned To Stone 3:00 
Please Stay Mine 2:43 
Sometimes I Feel Like I Just Can’t Go On 4:03 
Leaving It Up To You 3:48 
Sweet Dream Lady 

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