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Friday, October 01, 2004

THE CLASH

When the Clash were the 'only band that matters', I was fifteen and mostly interested in Heavy Metal. I came around however. Over the years the Clash crept in. The first record that I heard was The Clash, thier 1977 debut. My friend Alex Mans used to play it endlessly in the Road Crew Mobile Unit. I remember liking 'Hate and War', but not buying the record. My brother Rod had at least the first three records (The Clash, Give 'Em Enough Rope' and 'London Calling) and it was the last of these that did the trick. Although 'Give 'em Enough Rope' was produced by Blue Oyster Cult's man behing the board-Sandy Pearlman, and had a decisive Heavy Metal edge to the sound (much to Mick Jones' joy, and Joe Strummer's dismay), it was the songs that sealed the deal, and the songs on 'London Calling', specifically the first three cuts-'London Calling', 'Brand New Cadillac', and 'Jimmy Jazz'- sold me big time. I have gone back and purchased all the Clash albums including the 'Black Market Clash' ep, and I love them all. What's most notable about the Clash is their infusion of musical styles into the Punk framework. This sort of genre assimilation came to light on 'London Calling', but evidence of it was there from the start. London DJ and filmaker Don Letts helped turn the Clash boys onto reggae, and the quest for musical experimentation-led by Strummer-continued to supply the band with fresh material. 1981's 'Sandinista' is the apex of this quest. A triple record set-unheard of in the marketplace-provided fans with more music than they could handle. I love the record, and it is extremely diverse, but it's not for everybody. I would say that 'Washington Bullets' is one of my all time favorite songs, and Mick Jones provides some great rock tunes; 'Somebody Got Murdered' and 'Police On My Back'. For all intents and purposes here, the Story of the Clash ends with 1982's 'Combat Rock'. The only Clash record to make a profit, 'Combat Rock' features the mega hits: 'Rock The Casbah' and 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go', and thrust them into the mainsteam, and eventually disfunction. Mick quit, Joe and Paul put out a lame record (Cut The Crap), went on a 'busking' tour, and finally called it quits in 1984. There's far too much to say about the Clash, and I haven't the time, so you can get the DVD 'Westway To The World' and get the story straight from Mick, Joe, Paul and Topper, or you can buy the book 'Return Of The Last Gang In Town' and read about such colorful characters as Bernie Rhodes (manager) and Guy Stevens (producer of London Calling). Or you can just get out the albums and feel important again.

"Midnight to six man
For the first time from Jamaica
Dillinger and Leroy Smart
Delroy Wilson, your cool operator

Ken Boothe for UK pop reggae
With backing bands sound systems
And if they've got anything to say
There's many black ears here to listen

But it was Four Tops all night with encores from stage right
Charging from the bass knives to the treble
But onstage they ain't got no roots rock rebel
Onstage they ain't got no...roots rock rebel

Dress back jump back this is a bluebeat attack
'Cos it won't get you anywhere
Fooling with your guns
The British Army is waiting out there
An' it weighs fifteen hundred tons

White youth, black youth
Better find another solution
Why not phone up Robin Hood
And ask him for some wealth distribution

Punk rockers in the UK
They won't notice anyway
They're all too busy fighting
For a good place under the lighting

The new groups are not concerned
With what there is to be learned
They got Burton suits, ha you think it's funny
Turning rebellion into money

All over people changing their votes
Along with their overcoats
If Adolf Hitler flew in today
They'd send a limousine anyway

I'm the all night drug-prowling wolf
Who looks so sick in the sun
I'm the white man in the Palais
Just lookin' for fun

I'm only
Looking for fun"-- 'White Man In Hammersmith", The Clash- (Strummer/Jones)

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