2020 Album Draft- Round 4 Pick 5- Aphoristical selects- The Clash- The Clash
Aphoristical’s blog can be found at – https://albumreviews.blog/
My musical tastes expanded while I was at university, and one particular band was the primary driver. The Clash started as a punk band, but during their career they explored a lot of directions – reggae was in their DNA, growing up in rough London suburbs, but they also dabbled in hip hop, dub, and rockabilly. Their leftist politics were also perfect for a university student; frontman Joe Strummer was the son of a diplomat and he eloquently decried US intervention in ‘Washington Bullets’.
Initially I was drawn in by The Clash’s later hits like ‘London Calling’ and ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ – with their more mainstream sound, they were classic rock staples. Punk’s often simple, but musical mainstay Mick Jones was a gifted guitarist and tunesmith, while bassist Paul Simonon developed into an excellent player.
My favourite Clash album is the US version of their 1977 debut. The original version was successful in the UK, reaching number 12 on the charts, but their record company refused to release it in the US, feeling it was too raw. It instead became the best-selling import of all time. It featured the group’s early punk songs like ‘Career Opportunities’ and ‘White Riot’, along with a very assured stab at reggae with their cover of ‘Police and Thieves’.
The 1979 US version actually improves on the original by removing four songs and replacing them with non-LP singles. Drummer Terry Chimes left after recording the debut, and was replaced by Topper Headon, an immediate upgrade. ‘Complete Control’ is a broadside at their record company, bristling with indignation, while their version of ‘I Fought the Law’ rocks. The crown jewel though, is ‘(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais’, full of Joe Strummer’s creative wordplay and shifting gears seamlessly between punk and reggae.
The Clash helped me through university – when I wrote my major essay on English punk rock for one history course, I titled my paper ‘Turning Rebellion Into Money’, a line from ‘(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais’,