Damnation - Back to the River, from "The Second Damnation", released in 1970. Now here was a band that had all the potential in the world but weren't given the acclaim and recognition they certainly deserved, except maybe in their native Cleveland, Ohio, where they were formed in the late sixties by vocalist Bill Constable (later changed to Adam Blessing, and, as a result, the band became known as "The Damnation of Adam Blessing"). Damnation of Adam Blessing had their roots in two Cleveland garage bands, "The Society" and "The Alarm Clocks" in the mid sixties. The initial line-up which featured on the band's debut album, "The Damnation of Adam Blessing", was Adam Blessing on vocals, Bob Kalamasz and Jim Quinn on guitars, Ray Benich on bass and Bill Schwark on drums, and this line-up would remain constant for all three of their albums. The follow-up album, our featured CD, was equally as good as the debut, with some really strong material. The band had, by now, built up a fairly good reputation as a fine live act and they also appeared on various TV shows with the likes of Ike and Tina Turner. The third album, "Which is the Justice, which is the Thief", came out in 1972, but it signalled the end of the band. Actually a brilliant album, it featured stunning orchestration on a number of tunes, and showed that Damnation (as the album was credited to) had matured and developed into a solid rock act. According to the extensive booklet that comes with the triple CD box set, elaborately and lovingly put together by Akarma Records, complete with original artwork and poster in an lp size box, the band members, whilst acknowledging that the third album had some good material, felt that it "wasn't as much fun to do" and that "other people did whatever they wanted and put the band's name on it". They had enough material for a fourth album, but split before that materialized. Terry Knight, known for his work with Grand Funk and Bloodrock, wanted to sign them up to his new Brown Bag Record label, (a rare label, with artists such as Faith, who we've featured on The Dinosaur Days before, and Mom's Apple Pie, a seriously large and powerful brass rock outfit), but they recorded the album under their new name, Glory, for Avalanche Records, a subsidiary of their previous label, UA. When Glory ended, all the members continued to pursue music in one way or another. If you want to hear more and read more in depth info on this excellent band, spend the bucks and purchase this box set - it's a fitting tribute to a hard working band, and it's great to see that their albums have finally seen the light of day onC D. 

Biography by Richie Unterberger
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. 




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Damnation - 1970 - Second Damnation - 3/5



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