The Clash Album Reviews

Perhaps the most celebrated band to emerge from the 1970’s punk movement, The Clash started as a straight-out punk band. But their music soon expanded, incorporating the reggae and dub they were hearing on London’s streets, as well as venturing into straight out rock, hip hop, and pretty much everything else as well. As a white boy growing up in a sheltered musical environment, The Clash were a very important gateway band for me in my late teens, opening my eyes to lots of different musical forms.

The core of the group was the writing partnership of guitarist Mick Jones who wrote the music and charismatic vocalist Joe Strummer, who was able to articulately write about political and social issues. They were ably supported by their rhythm section. Paul Simonon was recruited because he looked like David Bowie, but quickly developed into a fine bass player, and he wrote and sang lead on the revered ‘Guns of Brixton’. Drummer Topper Headon was in place for most of the band’s tenure, and with a jazz background he’s a top class player, while he also wrote and recorded the music for ‘Rock The Casbah’, one of the band’s biggest hits.

The Clash were a great band, although you could make the argument that they failed to meet their enormous potential fully, given that they only made two essential studio albums – their 1977 debut and 1979’s London Calling. Part of the reason for their uneven discography was record company pressure – they were forced to go for a more commercial rock sound on 1978’s Give ‘Em Enough Rope, while releasing the bloated triple Sandinista! in 1981 helped them speed through a difficult ten album contract. The band splintered before 1985’s Cut The Crap, widely used as an example of a terrible album by a great band – Jones was fired, while Headon was pushed out because of his addictions.

Ten Favourite Songs by The Clash

Justice Tonight/Kick It Over
(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais
London Calling
The Guns Of Brixton
Train In Vain
The Magnificent Seven
Rock The Casbah
Safe European Home
One More Time
This Is England