The Clash (US Version)
The Clash’s debut album was recorded in three weekends, but was considered too raw to be released to the US market, although it achieved the highest ever sales for an import album. Eventually a modified version was released in 1979, replacing four of the lesser songs from the original with five non-album singles and b-sides, as well as substituting ‘White Riot’ with a newer version.
The resulting album is less coherent than the original, but more accomplished, and I rate it as the group’s strongest recording; The Clash has a conciseness and energy which is missed by its followups. Iconic tracks like ‘Janie Jones’ and ‘White Riot’ still bristle with energy. Singles ‘Complete Control’, ‘I Fought the Law’, and the reggae cover of ‘Police and Thieves’ provide diversity. The highlight is the epic ‘White Man (in Hammersmith Palais)’ which brilliantly mixes rock and reggae to preach about punk, race relations, and politics.
This bastardised version of The Clash is of historical significance in defining a genre, and is the most important work by a seminal band.