#28: Wot by Captain Sensible

City: Halifax, NS
Radio Station: CJCH
Peak Month: March-April  1983
Peak Position in Halifax ~ #9
Peak position in Vancouver ~ did not chart
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube: “Wot
Lyrics: “Wot

Raymond Ian Burns was born in 1954 in London, UK. In 1974 he joined the port-punk band Johnny Moped which included Chrissy Hynde. In 1976 he formed punk band The Damned. He was with The Damned on their first five albums from 1976 (Damned Damned Damned) to 1982 (Strawberries). Burns adopted his stage name Captain Sensible ironically because he described himself as a “debauched maniac” who had fun “regardless of the consequences. His first solo release, “Jet Boy, Jet Girl”, was a Top 40 hit in the Netherlands in 1978. He recorded the single while The Damned was on a break.

In 1982, Captain Sensible made a cover of the 1949 tune by Rogers and Hammerstein titled “Happy Talk”. The single topped both the Irish and UK singles chart. In the summer of 1982, it charted on CFNY in Toronto. The single was such a smash hit that it led to more solo work.

His next release was “Wot”.

Wot by Captain Sensible

“Wot” is a song about a guy who wakes up and everything is fine. But suddenly his sublime state is disrupted by a man working making banging sounds with a piledriver. The lyrics tell: “I’m aware that the guy must do his work
But the piledriver man drove me berserk.”

Verse two surfs through a few themes: a) the need to work if you want to get paid, b) confiding “the girls I like most are the ones undressed,” and c) and dressing down another guy who he wants to stand aside cause “you’re an ugly old pirate and I ain’t glad.” From there the song repeats this refrain:
He said captain, I said wot?
He said captain, I said wot?
He said captain, I said wot?
He said captain, I said wot d’ya want? 

“Wot” peaked at #9 in Halifax (NS) for three weeks, #18 in Sherbrooke (PQ), and #23 in Hamilton (ON). Internationally, “Wot” climbed to #3 in Belgium and Switzerland, #4 in Austria and West Germany, #6 in New Zealand, and #14 in the Netherlands. In Australia, “Wot” peaked at #9 in Melbourne. In 1993, Captain Sensible released a remix titled “Wot ’93”. In 2005, “Wot” re-entered the Germany pop charts and peaked at #80. The single was re-released again in 2014.

In 1984, Captain Sensible had another Top Ten hit in the UK and Ireland with “Glad It’s All Over”/”Damned On 45”. The single peaked in both nations at #6. Later that year, “One Christmas Catalogue” – an anti-Falklands War song – charted to #79 on the UK singles chart. With his solo successes, Captain Sensible left The Damned in 1984.

Sensible also sang “The Snooker Song” – the theme to the BBC TV game show Big Break which ran from 1991 to 1996. The single was released in 1988.

Between 1982 and 1994 Captain Sensible released nearly thirty singles. Seven of these charted on the UK pop singles chart, and three made the Top 30. Between 1982 and 1996, Captain Sensible released seven studio albums.

Captain Sensible reunited with The Damned from 1988 to 1992, and again from 1996 to the present. He also appeared on further album releases with The Damned: So Who’s Paranoid? (2008), Evil Spirits (2018), and Black is the Night (2019).

In September 2006, Captain Sensible formed a new British political party known as the Blah! Party, saying, “We believe that voting is an important part of the democratic process, and we want the Blah! Party to be the party of protest, a channel through which the people of the U.K. can vent their dissatisfaction at nonsensical everyday things, and protest against the government and the current crop of political parties.”

The Blah! Party was largely modeled on the principle of direct democracy, with suggestions being made by anyone on the party website. These suggestions would then be voted on by the membership, resulting in a “rolling manifesto.” The party was launched on 24 September 2006 at a conference in Manchester. They aspired to become the largest political party in the UK, at least according to membership. Initial policies included stopping “chav culture and the idolisation of airhead celebrities like the Beckhams, Paris Hilton and Jade Goody”, alongside more serious policies of opposing the Iraq War and ID cards, instead spending money on public transport, hospitals and renewable energy.

Captain Sensible was also part of the supergroup Dead Men Walking from 2004 to 2006.

Captain Sensible has written several songs about animal rights, including “Torture Me” and most notably the 1985 single “Wot! No Meat?”

Captain Sensible appeared in concert on tour with The Damned in 2017 with stops in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. The Damned appeared at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver on July 5, 2018. He was with The Damned when they toured Canada with stops in Toronto (1979), Montreal (1982), Ottawa (1983), Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver (1998), and subsequent dates in Canada’s three major cities in the 2000s.

February 26, 2024
Ray McGinnis

Keith Valcourt, “Captain Sensible of English band The Damned on tour, 40th anniversary,” Washington Times, May 4, 2017.
Classic Pop, “The Godfathers of Pop – Captain Sensible interview,” Classicpopmag.com, January 29, 2018.
Blah! To Senseless Politics,” the Blah Party, November 12, 2006.

Wot by Captain Sensible
CJCH 920-AM, Halifax (NS) Top Ten | April 1, 1983

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