no elvis, beatles or the rolling stones!
'Cos I been too long on the dole,
And I can't work at all.
You better paint your face!
No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones."
('1977' - Strummer/Jones)
it seems to be clash nite in the old wreckroom tonite.
not that s.a. has much to say, i am the dread at the controls.
she is wrapped up in an internet chat party and i am left to my own devises, uh-oh . . .
i just got the jr. murvin cd of 'police and thieves' today. and yes, it is so cool to hear his falsetto all nice and clean with no scratches, (except for the excellent lee 'scratch' perry production).
so that lead me to pull out old 45s and show 'em off, though she wasn't looking. so i guess i'll share with ya'll . . .
i have all the early clash 45s, with the covers. these guys really did a wonderful job putting out singles during the punk movement, prolly some of the best. the records always had an obscure b-side that was just as good as the a-side, (the white riot/1977 45 is still one of my fave singles of all time . . . 2 sides, 4 mins and the most powerful rock statement!). and the covers were very punk art. and very clever.
and i just loved the attitude the clash had, they loved all kinds of music. they tried all every influential style on 'london's calling' then threw all the money they had to buck the industry and release a sprawling 3 record set about revolution and partying called 'sandinista!', (even having the balls to designate the record # with the prefix 'fsln', the call letters for the nicaragaun liberation front). very ballsy.
and they embraced the power of reggae and twisted the punk to make it fit. the clash enlisted the jamaican artist mikey dread to give the reggae they were playing some depth and credibility, and it worked. the stuff he did with the clash on a few singles and the sandinista! album is smokey and muggy like a warm island afternoon on ganja.
i loved reggae as soon as i bought the first wailers lp on a whim, (the one that looks like a zippo). we would have these rasta parties in the '70s where everyone put up for pot and we made a huge spliff, (according to rasta rules, made with corn husks and jutting about a foot from your face), played all the reggae we had and.. just.. drifted... mon.
so when the clash started this kinda hybrid punk-reggae, i was all into that too . . . as early as the 1st lp they were rippin' on jr murvin's 'police and thieves' and later it just got better.
'sandinista!' is the pinnacle tho'. the vastness of the music, the mistakes and majesty, it seemed they were just hanging on a ledge, nekkid for the world to see. it is so ambitious musically, touching every base, with style and surpassing anything any 'punk' band has tried to do. the lp came with a very cool double-sided poster w/ lyrics and bizarre art work and contains the best of the songwriting of joe strummer and mick jones. in fact jones really shines here with very graphic portrayals of late 70's life in britain. songs like 'police on my back', 'up here in heaven' and somebody got murdered' resonate with the feel of london today. and to me 'something about england' is up there with 'waterloo sunset' as the archetypical british songs of the post ww2 era.
the album reminds me of the 'white album' on steroids. too much to take in at once, hell, i am still trying to digest it.
the follow-up, 'combat rock' seems undone, (i think they spent more on the cover shot than recording. . . ). and the last one, 'cut the crap' was done right dissed by strummer and the bass player paul simonon after it was released, (jones had quit to form b.a.d. by then).
i caught the clash at the warehouse for the '82 tour and they were just exhausted, (this was like a week after strummer went m.i.a., he was 'found' just before the new orleans show). by this time the band was lyrically subversive, but the music lacked the primal punch of the earlier stuff, it was as tho' the band had given everything to put out 'sandinista!', and there wasn't much left. they put out that one last uber-lame lp then broke up officially in 1986, but it really was over after 1980.
but they did live up to the hype, for awhile.
some mp3s from 'the only band that matters':
junior murvin - police and thieves