Friday, February 5, 2010

10# The Only Band That Ever Mattered... The Clash

"The Clash are the only band that ever mattered" recited more then a few famous music critics. This incredulous statement is very true in many ways. The Clash were Joe Strummer (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Mick Jones (lead guitar, vocals), Paul Simonon (bass, backing vocals, occasional lead vocals) and Nicky "Topper" Headon (drums, percussion).While the Sex Pistols may have been the first Punk Rock group in the UK, it was The Clash that dominated the genre. If you are a serious punk rock fan, then you usually end up in one of the camps of the three godfathers of Punk Rock: The Clash, The Sex Pistols, and the Ramones. Honorable mention goes to groups like Iggy and the Stooges and Patty Smith. Why were the Clash so good?

The Clash Exploded onto the scene in 1976 with one of the greatest albums of all time. The self titled 'The Clash' is absolute Punk Rock Genius. The pure essence of the speed freak brain of punk with the tinniest most frantic guitars ever trapped on vinyl. When this album was released, lives were changed beyond recognition by it. Aside from being the 'Beatles of Punk Rock', they also showed their clear mastery of other genres as well. Their cover of 'Police and Thieves' showed that they could rock to the Reggae groove better then most bands. If you listen to the track, it is an amazingly good track. Simonon's bass line that pounds through the song like lightning bolts is by far the funkiest and most addictive bass line I have ever heard. The drum intro instantly affects you and makes you start air drumming uncontrollably. Mick Jones' guitar licks are as sticky as glue and reverberate and distort with that pure garage band style punk that we know and love.

It is so rare in music that a group of people this talented get together to make music. It's like if Beethoven had decided to write music with Mozart, with Chopin hanging out on the session for laughs. The Clash attack you from every angle, leaving you so musically stunned you are not even sure what has just happened to you. Joe Strummer, often referred to as Punk's poet laureate spits out his lyrics with such venom and energy that you become hypnotized as if you were staring into the cobra eyes of the punk gods themselves. Strummer's phenomenal lyrics were matched perfectly by Mick Jones' talent for instrumentation and his ability with a guitar. They were quite a legendary team and are definitely up there with Lennon/McCartney and Jagger/Richards. In fact they are so talented that you often forget the other guys. Headon is quite simply one of the greatest drummers I have ever heard. You can hear his awesome beats and rhythm rocking the song along at every turn, he anticipates the grooves being shot out from the machine gun of Simonon's Bass guitar and the two of them together form one of the greatest rhythm sections in Rock.

Lyrically, the band's music was often charged by a quite left leaning ideology. Joe Strummer, in particular, was a committed leftist. The Clash are credited with pioneering the advocacy of radical politics in punk rock. Like many early punk bands, The Clash protested against monarchy and aristocracy. However, unlike many of their peers, The Clash rejected the nihilism apparent in most of the other groups. Instead, they found solidarity with a number of contemporary liberation movements and were involved with such groups as the Anti-Nazi League which struck a chord within Strummer in particular (his brother who had always sided with Neo-Nazi groups in the UK, became estranged from the rest of the family and eventually committed suicide in 1970). In April 1978, The Clash headlined the Rock Against Racism concert in London's Victoria Park for an estimated 80,000 people.

The Facts:

- In the ten years they were together (1976-1986) they released six albums containing some of the greatest Punk Rock that has ever been.
- The first album (The Clash) is often regarded as the blueprint of all Punk Rock that would come after.
- Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.
- Having disbanded nearly six years earlier, The Clash scored their first #1 U.K. single with a reissued “Should I Stay or Should I Go.”

Fave Album:

-This might not come as a surprise if you have read the rest of this article. I am going to have to admit that their first album 'The Clash' is my fave. This explosive record was cut in three weekends and released in the UK in April 1977. It included such punk-rock anthems as “White Riot,” (which is one of the most amazing punk songs I've ever heard), “I’m So Bored With the U.S.A.” and “London’s Burning.” Their reworking of Junior Murvin’s reggae classic “Police & Thieves” is the historic signpost between the punk and reggae communities. The Clash has been called “archetypal, resplendent punk,” and it was one of those paradigm-shifting albums that forever altered the course of rock. Ironically, it was not initially released by the band’s American label, Epic, which deemed it “too crude.” (As a further irony, the label would later sticker Clash releases with the praise that started this article: “The Only Band That Matters.”) Word of mouth and favorable press made The Clash one of the best-selling imports in history and Epic released a bastardized version of the album in 1979.

Enjoy this little medley that took place in Manchester, UK in 1977. This is some fantastic stuff. The prime example of why these guys were the greatest Punk Rock band in history. The fiery intensity is a sight to see. Strummer in particular appears about to explode in parts... ENJOY!

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