Recorded in California in 1985 but not released until 1996, FIENDISH SHADOWS LIVE captures the Damned at the height of their whacked-out goth-cartoon phase. Singer Dave Vanian, who dressed like a vampire at the time, is clearly in charge. His goofy persona is all over the roller-rink organ and silly lyrics of such songs as "Grimly Fiendish" and "Is it a Dream." Like most of the 15-track set, these songs are taken from the group's then-current album, PHANTASMAGORIA.
Vanian and company's utter lack of seriousness makes the vampire shtick a lot easier to take than it would be from some of the gloomier goth rockers. The Damned essays both punk-era hits like "New Rose" and garage classics like the Electric Prunes' "I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night" in exactly the same goofball style, making FIENDISH SHADOWS an entertaining trifle.