Opinions on the only band that matters

Recently read the new bio on Joe Strummer (my recommendation - don’t bother), and it got me to listening to my old records and CDs. I’ll listen to them some more, but I’d like to hear what others thing about things Clash-like.

I was a huge fan for their first 3 albums - London Calling was one of the few albums I remember waiting for and buying the day it came out. But I never really got into Sandinista, and when Combat Rock came out I had heard enough of it on the radio to want to go out and buy a copy. Their show at the Aragon Brawlroom in 79 was one of the best concerts I ever saw.

Over the past week I listened to the first 4 albums and the Clash on Broadway, and pretty much feel the same way. I’d recommend to someone that they own the 1st 3 albums and maybe Black Market Clash, tho the On Broadway compilation wouldn’t be a bad way to go.

The way I see it, the first album is pretty much punk with a significant reggae influence and a lot more melodicism than someone unfamiliar with punk might expect. Give Em Enough Rope is still pretty punk, but the reggae is more pervasive, and I see it as moving towards more “hard rock”. Can’t think of a bad song on either of the first 2 albums. By London Calling, I don’t think someone who just listened to that album would think of calling the band “punk,” but it is IMO an excellent rock album (not to mention an awesome cover photo!).

Sandinista - man is that thing all over the map. Probably would have made a great single album, maybe a decent double. Or maybe today it could be a single CD with a second disc containing “bonus” tracks. I was surprised at how many of the songs I recalled well, but not sure there is a single one I would intentionally listen to.

What I heard of Combat Rock from “Broadway” reaffirms my impression that Rock the Casbah and Should I Stay… are on the list of excellent songs that have been overplayed such that I never need to hear them again.

Any thoughts?

Wow, that’s a great big wide open question. :slight_smile:

Thoughts on Combat Rock…I agree that “Should I Stay of Should I Go?” and “Rock The Casbah” are grossly overplayed, but more than that, they were two of my least favorite songs on there to start with. What I really like on that album are the long, drawn out, atmospheric dubs - “Sean Flynn,” “Ghetto Defendant,” and of course the incomparable “Straight to Hell.” Between the power of that song, and the fact that I could relate to it (being half Vietnamese, half American), it was the first song that ever drove me to tears. Half the time, it still does.

Thoughts on The Clash in general: they’re certainly the greatest punk rock band ever, and one of the very best rock and roll bands, period. Except for the Beatles, I can’t think of another band that tackled as many different styles as fearlessly as The Clash. Punk? Check. Rockabilly? Check. Ska? Reggae? Dub? Check x 3. Funk? Disco? Gospel? Rap? Sure. And like the Beatles, they didn’t always succeed in these experiments (Joe turned out to be a lousy rapper, for one), but they always put their own stamp on the genres, and they were always sincere, even when it was in fashion to be ironic.

My favorite band ever. London Calling is my favorite album ever.

Well, in The Right Profile, he amusingly doesn’t even remember the lyrics. That doesn’t happen much in other genres.

I waited in line for 2.5 hours to try to get into the Joe Strummer documentary at Sundance. I didn’t get in (200 people were waiting for 10 seats), but I hope it comes out on DVD. I still like Sandanista. Perhaps in could have been edited down to one or two albums, but I admire the chutzpah to make it 3 albums. As you said, the first 3 Clash albums were superb. I don’t care for anything after Sandanista.

I’ve got Global a Go Go and Streetcore by the Mescaleros in front of me and I really like them. For some reason, I never got into the Mescaleros at the time, but I didn’t realize Joe would meet such an untimely death. R.I.P. Joe, I dearly miss you.

Strummer said, IIRC, when Sandinista! came out “There is no dog shit on this album.”

I don’t disagree with that assessment, but I think he was overstating things. It could (and would have, if Springsteen’s The River had been released later) and should have been a very fine double-LP release, second only to London Calling in their catalog. “Hitsville U.K.” is my favorite track overall from that album, and the whole Side 1 is aces.

I got to see them on the Combat Rock tour, the night after I saw Elvis Costello in the same venue in the same seats (he was touring on Imperial Bedroom). It really did look like the beginning of the end of the band - absolutely no chemistry onstage between any of the members, and Strummer and Jones could have been in two different cities for the amount of interaction they had that night. It made me a sad panda because I would really have liked to see them perform like I’ve heard they did pre-London Calling, and that would never happen again.

The Clash are still one of my favorite bands, and THE favorite band that didn’t record in the '60s.

So what do you think of the post-Jones Clash and the various Big Audio Dynamite projects? BAD’s first two albums blew me away, and Joe’s Clash was just embarassing to listen to.

I love the Clash, unquestionably one of the greatest bands ever. Without a doubt their first three albums are essential to own if you are serious rock and roll fan, never mind just into punk in general.

Like most everyone else, I have some issues with “Sandinista” and “Combat Rock”- more so “Sandinista” because of the sheer bloating of it. It was the favorite album of one of my high school friends though, because he loved to chill out to the dub. For me, a little bit of that goes a long way.

I do like hearing their evolution on “From Here to Eternity” - kind neat that the tracks are in order of release, not by the live recording date. I have not met one person who admits to liking “Cut the Crap”

I was never a fan of B.A.D., but I enjoy the Mescaleros.

To answer the OP’s title question, I like everything by Pink Floyd.

steps out sheepishly

I don’t mind Cut The Crap. I stole it on cassette from Kemp Mill Music in Gaithersburg, MD when I was 16. I was hanging out with my best two friends at the time. It was the first time I’d stolen anything more valuable than a pack of gum. We listened to it in Steve’s car all that Saturday afternoon as we continued to do typically inane 16 year old hellraising stuff. The music was burned into my brain by the glorious summer day, the company of Steve and TJ, and the sheer exhilaration of having successfully stolen an $8.99 tape. Because of that, it has too many memories attached to it for me to ever truly hate it.

And I still think “This Is England” and “Three Card Trick” are decent songs. :o

The Mescaleros were completely different than The Clash after Jones left. In fact, they were so different sounding to me (and better), that I forgot about them completely for this thread.

If you’re talking about what I think you’re talking about, I’m pretty sure that was intentional - meant to appropriate the sound of drug-induced gibberish and/or vomiting (the preceding lines are “Go on and get me another roll of pills/Here I go again shaking but I ain’t got the chills”). They even printed the line on the lyric sheet (“Blrrrghhhh!” or something similar). Unless there’s another part of the song that I never noticed where he actually does forget the lyrics.

To me, the first album was better than London Calling - just so pure, and every song at the very least good. I enjoy Sandinista!, too, though it wasn’t until I went back to it after years of having written it off that I began to appreciate it. And I agree with onecentstamp’s opinion of “Straight To Hell” - that one alone makes Combat Rock worth owning.

As an aside, Joe Strummer’s was the only celebrity death that brought me to tears, and probably the only one that ever will.

From what this bio said, it would seem extremely unusual that Joe would forget a lyric during recording, based both on what they say about how painstakingly he crafted his lyrics, and the way that at times during various recording sessions he would record lyrics essentially line-by-line - or even word-by-word (depending on whether or not someone was particularly wasted at the time of recording.)

Why do folks feel so strongly about Joe Strummer? I mean, I love his music. And I love the impact his music had. But I didn’t know much about the man. I guess I thought of him as extremely liberal, socialist, against class distinctions, and for defying convention. Which are (in my mind) generally good things. But after the Clash disbanded, I didn’t keep up with him.

Anyone else read Redemption Song? The more I read about JS, the less I cared about him. Well, the one thing you could say is that he lived his principles. But in action, those principles were being a pretty raging drunk much of the time, and stoned all of the time. He dicked over just about anyone he came in contact with, was incapable of being loyal to any woman, and apparently was extremely unreliable in terms of committments.

The book was 600+ pages, and I think they fired Topper around page 300. Much of the remaining 300 pages read along the lines of: “And then Joe went to Jamaica, and got fucked up with a whole bunch of people. And then he went to Spain, AGFUWAWBOP. And then he went into a studio to record a music soundtrack, AGFUWAWBOP. Then he went to a bunch of music festivals, where he GFUWAHBOP.”

But it was tough to skim, because in the middle of a paragraph essentially listing the people at a party or in a recording session, the author would drop in something I was interested in. Probably more of a criticism of the author than the subject.

I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, it pretty much starts and ends right here. I love almost everything he did musically, and I love most of the music he inspired and influenced. That he was a complex human being, personally, who aspired to great things and may have fallen short of the glory more often than not - that’s just interesting backstory to me.

I enjoy the Clash a lot. When I was growing up I was a mainstream rock kid and didn’t really invest the time in punk till later, but man has it been worth it.

For cool Clash stuff, you might check:

  • Westway to the World, the documentary on the Clash out on DVD - pretty good
  • **Psychotic Reactions and Carbureator Dung ** by Lester Bangs - Bangs loved the Clash and there is at least one lengthy chapter discussing why and what it was like for Bangs to tour with them…
  • **Punk ** - a book published by D&K that is a collection of what appear to be articles from various UK publications on the punk era from a variety of points of view…

I can’t remember if **Please Kill Me: an Uncensored Oral History of Punk ** covers much on the Clash; its focus is mostly on the New York scene. But is one of the best books ever written on the emergence of a music scene, so I can’t help but recommend it any chance I can…

Hell, Bangs is the reason this thread bears the title it does. :slight_smile:

I guess what surprised me was that I personally found the backstory so uninteresting!

OK, yeah. Let’s lay that squarely at the feet of the author. :stuck_out_tongue:

I met Joe Strummer in a bar in Osaka, when he was playing a festival there with The Mescaleros. He was a lovely man, as friendly as can be to some strange Kiwi bloke trying desperately not to be a stammering fanboy. He must have had to deal with that stuff 20 times a day, but he couldn’t have been nicer, and my claim to rock’n’roll fame is that I bought Joe Strummer a beer. A year or so later and he was dead.

How cool is that! Thanks for sharing.

Remind me never to let you buy me a beer (unless I have less than a year to live.) :wink: