“The Clash” by The Clash - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1977Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die external-link.png

TJR says

The Clash made their debut on 4th July 1976, supporting the Sex Pistols at the Black Swan in Sheffield. By the turn of the year, punk had become a major media phenomenon in the UK. On 25th January 1977, the band signed to CBS Records for £100,000, a remarkable amount for a band that had played a total of about thirty gigs and almost none as a headliner. The debut single, “White Riot”, was released in March 1977 and reached number 34. Joe Strummer and bassist Paul Simonon had been involved in the riots at the Notting Hill Carnival of 1976. Their clarion-call to the disaffected white youth was to stand up like their black counterparts. The song was a two chord wonder – fast and crude but really saying something: “Are you taking over, or are you taking orders? Are you going backwards, or are you going forwards?” The Clash would fight wars on many fronts – to the sound of police sirens, the war against racism in the establishment had so begun.

The debut album came hot on the heels of the single, arriving in April. The line-up was Joe Strummer (24, lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Mick Jones (21, lead guitar, vocals), Paul Simonon (21, bass guitar, vocals) and Terry Chimes (20, drums). Poor Terry was re-christened for all-time as “Tory Crimes” on the album’s notes. Unsurprisingly, it would be his first and last Clash album. Clearly, this was a band keen to make a statement at every opportunity. This set was straight out of garageland, red through and through, and bursting with energy. “Career Opportunities” expressed discontent with the lack of opportunity for Britain’s youth of the day: “I hate the army an’ I hate the R.A.F., I don’t wanna go fighting in the tropical heat, I hate the civil service rules, And I won’t open letter bombs for you”. The line “I won’t open letter bombs for you” is a reference to a former job of Clash guitarist Mick Jones, opening letters for a British government department to make sure they weren’t rigged with mailbombs. “Do you wanna make tea at the BBC” always makes me laugh. Protest laced with humour is surely the way; sarcasm is a most effective form of wit as far as I’m concerned, don’t let the squares tell you otherwise.

Elsewhere, the band’s embracing of England’s Jamaican subculture was a masterstroke. First fruits of this dalliance came via the album’s only cover, Junior Murvin’s “Police And Thieves”, which was one of those amazing historical moments in music, where one single gesture proves be completely inspirational for a generation. One Jerry Dammers was certainly paying attention. The song, addressing Jamaican gang war and police brutality, was seen to represent every bit as well in England 1977. Murvin’s first commentary was “They have destroyed Jah work!”. No Junior, they were spreading Jah word! The protest movement is alive and well, now with added culture-clash flavours.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [02:06] 7.8.png The Clash - Janie Jones (Joe Strummer, Mick Jones) Punk
A2 [03:01] 7.5.png The Clash - Remote Control (Joe Strummer, Mick Jones) Punk
A3 [02:24] 6.8.png The Clash - I’m So Bored With The USA (Joe Strummer, Mick Jones) Punk
A4 [04:00] 9.2.png The Clash - White Riot (Joe Strummer, Mick Jones) Punk
A5 [02:05] 6.5.png The Clash - Hate And War (Joe Strummer, Mick Jones) Punk
A6 [01:41] 6.2.png The Clash - What’s My Name (Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Keith Levene) Punk
A7 [03:06] 6.4.png The Clash - Deny (Joe Strummer, Mick Jones) New Wave
A8 [02:10] 7.5.png The Clash - London’s Burning (Joe Strummer, Mick Jones) Punk
B1 [01:52] 8.2.png The Clash - Career Opportunities (Joe Strummer, Mick Jones) Punk
B2 [02:06] 7.8.png The Clash - Cheat (Joe Strummer, Mick Jones) Punk
B3 [01:47] 6.0.png The Clash - Protex Blue (Joe Strummer, Mick Jones) Punk
B4 [06:01] 9.4.png The Clash - Police And Thieves (Junior Murvin, Rainford Hugh Perry) New Wave
B5 [01:36] 6.2.png The Clash - 48 Hours (Joe Strummer, Mick Jones) Punk
B6 [03:12] 7.3.png The Clash - Garageland (Joe Strummer, Mick Jones) Punk

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