I posted earlier today a short bit about the new Clash box set of remastered albums, with a bunch of video, and then I came across this history of the Clash video, which I think came out today on Google Play. I’ve watched part one and it’s quite direct and nice to hear the band tell their story, plus there’re a lot of good clips. There are five parts, here’s a link to part one:
Really enjoyed this doc. I’ll stick with part one, because my favorite Clash has always been first and second album Clash. London Calling? Overrated. Random thoughts:
1) Lotsa white reggae, mon. I never wrote my top songs of white reggae piece because I was unable to find the studio version of “Johnny Was” by Stiff Little Fingers, my number one.
2) They must’ve modeled Austin Powers’ early teeth after Mick Jones.
3) I thought Topper Headon was dead, but apparently he beat the heroin. Terry Chimes (Tory Crimes) is still alive too. I’d have bet a helluva lot of money that at least one Clash drummer was dead.
4) As Joe Strummer discusses “Not Fade Away” by the Rolling Stones being his musical enlightenment moment, I thought of mine. It’s when I was about 12 and my friend brought Alice Cooper’s “Billion Dollar Babies” over to my house. That’s when I thought, “All this radio music I’ve been listening to is crap! There’s truly a better way!” Thank God I never made it in music because that would be a pretty silly story. Billion Dollar Babies? Really?
You should move on to section two, which is about recording the underappreciated second album. Lots of Sandy Pearlman interviews. He goes on and on about how great Topper was/is. They don’t talk about London Calling until the third part (then Sandinista is fourth). There’s supposed to be five parts, assuming Combat Rock is number 5, but I can’t find it.
“Combat Rock” is not worth finding.
Rock the Casbah? How timely. How ahead of its time.
Should I Stay Or Should I Go? What a hit.
Obviously they were falling apart, but much of Combat Rock record beats the stuff any of them put out individually (and I’m a moderate fan of all three of their solo works–except Strummer’s Hurricane Weather, which fades). We need Salfino and his daughter to make the album that replaces Cut the Crap.
Hey, Johnny Was! By Stiff Little Fingers. Get writing.
Whoops. Here’s the link.
You didn’t notice I said “studio version.” The live versions are OK, but the studio is better than them all. Is it asking too much to find it on youtube? Yes.
Also, I just noticed Mick Jones is trying his best to throttle his choppers in the youtube doc still photo.
I found this one, which doesn’t sound right but doesn’t sound live. Gd copyright. For some reason there’s no Inflammable Material on Google Music, but lots of anthologies with all the same songs, except studio Johnny Was.
All versions are worth hearing however.
Best version I’ve heard on youtube, but still not as good as the original.
this is great.
i saw them four times, but the best was an unannounced gig at Temple Beautiful (which was where the People’s Temple people congregated before kool aid), for $3 (right after the Guiana holocast, actually). All the money went to a local musician’s fund, and cash only, in fact i had to break a $20 at the liquor store down the street to get it and in. In retrospect, maybe it was a racket, though knowing Strummer, I doubt it?
one other time i saw them was an infamous oakland “day on the green” at the then Oakland Coliseum, with, Mick Ronson, T-Bone Burnett, and Ian Hunter, and then the Who, with Kenny Jones on drums.
and, one of my top 10 all time fave songs–and favorite punk song ever–is “complete control.”
this is a great vid. from ’77, and they are so raw, but so right.
i agree with steve about london calling and combat rock. sort of like the dead doing terrepin station, or the neville bros doing yellow moon.
somehow or other they had to do something respectable that the public was forced to embrace simply due to their greatness (note, i am not a dead head at all, but they are unquestionably a great band of killer musicians).
they defined british punk like the ramones defined american punk.
Thank God they could afford bigger amps later on. I had to laugh out-loud at the solo.
I’ve said here before, I love songs with spelling, and this is absolutely in my Top Handful of Clash songs. Great clip, small amps, a funny bold guitar solo and a Paul Simenon fashion faux pas that kind of rocks nonetheless. Most excellent.
I saw them twice. Once at the Academy of Music, with Sam and Dave opening. We had seats in the last row of the balcony and that just meant that we could hold onto the ceiling while dancing. The other was on the pier next to the Intrepid. They started the show from on top of the ship and somehow made their way while playing down to the stage. Maybe not the only band that ever mattered, but one of only a few that could (have their marketing people) say that and not get squashed.
Simply amazing. Here’s that show I saw at the Academy of Music, which I guess by 1979 had been renamed the Palladium. And confirmation of my hunch that the Undertones were the band that opened for Sam and Dave. Sound isn’t the best, but this is a helluva live band at the top of their form.
My French is not in complete control, so I can only imagine why these talkers are talking so much about Led Zeppelin, but this is the whole Complete Control clip from French TV, with funny interview leading into the performance.
I was at the Academy show too. Complete Control is in my all-time Top 10, the coda is an endlessly amazing piece of music. I’ll go Steve and Lawr one better: all their albums after the first were uneven, although Safe European Home is right up there with even Complete Control.
I know this is a distinctly minority opinion, but I think that The Clash’s politics were FAR more interesting and artistically valid when they were ambiguous. Indeed, I believe that once they became by-the-book leftists the MUSIC suffered.
Johnny Was is new to me, all I knew of Stiff Little Fingers was Alternative Ulster (killer riff) and Suspect Device, although I’m sure I heard them at the time. Everything happened so fast and there was so much new music in those days, it was impossible to keep track of it all, for me anyway.
Safe European Home was on Give Em Enough Rope, which I still have on vinyl. They released it with different character types on the cover, and mine looks like Chinese script (also have it on CD).
My mate Tom Nelson of the biletones and I have been lobbying to do Tommy Gun for over five years now.
It is true to a degree what Steve says about their studio stuff sounding better.
I still have my Complete Control single (it was a 33 rpm) with the cover with the four speakers, one ripped to shreds, and I always feel like I need a cigarette or something after the end. So intense and breathtaking.
You guys recalling other times you saw them reminded me the second time I saw them in late 1979 with my then girlfriend Ava, who became Joey’s mom.
She was not really into punk, but she was a music junkie for sure. Anyway, we got tix to the Warfield in SF, and since it was fall, my best friend Mark had received a shipment of Mowie Zowie from his friend in Hawaii.
It was $200 an ounce, an unheard of sum at the time, but it was the best shit any of us had ever had.
So, Ava and I got totally blasted and the opening act was one of the Reggae bands that the band dragged around, Mickey Dread.
He was kind of pathetic though. No band to back him, just piped in audio and a boom box to sing to, and he would sing and had this echo on his mike, so every once in a while he would scream “Clash” with the echo and it would reverberate.
We were laughing so hard that that, we walked around saying “clashclashclashclashclash…” for weeks.
But, the band came on and opened with Safe European Home and with the first snare pop I lurched forward and was into the slipstream. And, they were great.
I still remember the look on Ava’s face watching me get pulled in: this appreciative smile that even if they didn’t get her, she got how they got me.
We saw them once again with Lee Dorsey opening, a la Sam and Dave and he was ok. Did Working in a Coal Mine which gave Clash context and Ride Your Pony and some other stuff.
Ava was with me at the Day on the Green, too.
Man, I have not thought about that stuff in years.