Originally a punk rock band from London, contemporaries of the Sex Pistols. The original lineup included Mick Jones, Keith Levene (later of PiL), Paul Simenon and Terry Chimes. Joe Strummer later replaced Levene, and multi-instrumentalist Topper Headon replaced Chimes on drums. They grew in several directions over the years, assimilating reggae, ska and various American roots musics, including rockabilly and hip-hop.

Straight to hell boys

Shocking really that no one cares to node anything more in depth than the above about one of the most inspiring bands of all time,subjective yes, but I was converted from a clash hater to a huge fan, merely by listening with an open mind to some of their lesser known gems, give em a try. If you realize that punk is an attitude not a dress code or a general inability to play more than 3 chords you will be converted.

Biography

Formed in mid 1976 when Joe Strummer (singer/guitarist) left a pub band called the 101’ers to join the London SS, a group composed of Mick Jones (guitar/vocals), Paul Simonon (bass) and Terry Chimes (drums). They changed their name to The Clash, got a gig opening for the sex pistols and so history was made. Their first album (self titled) was released by CBS in England in early ’77 and went to number 12 on the British charts. CBS declined to release the album in America because it was not "commercial" enough, but they managed to become an underground favorite, selling upwards of 100,000 import copies in the US.

The band spent most of the rest of ’77 cementing their punk rock street cred by getting busted for this and that and generally giving a good run at being THE role models for the slightly brighter musically interested punk rock (as opposed to the glue sniffing, gobbing, fashion wannabee’s that swear up and down that the sex pistols were the best band ever) fans in the UK and the US.

They lasted as a band with several lineup changes until 84 when they mercifully split up for the last time, burning out instead of fading away like good rock and rollers should. (substantive details and dates from http://londonsburning.org/art_rolling_stone_network_clash_bio.html)

Discography

  • The Clash (U.K. Version) 4/77
    If you don’t own this, buy it now. Before you get your grandma that new liver and certainly before you eat. This is food for the soul. All the songs are great, but particular standouts are: Police and Thieves, London’s Burning, Career Opportunities, White Riot (a song not about whites rioting against blacks, but about wanting white people to riot because they are also disaffected and asking them to stop co-opting black social unrest for themselves.) Oh to hell with it, they’re all amazing.
  • Give 'Em Enough Rope 11/78
    Magic, powerful, buy this one now too. A more self reflexive album that examines further the conflicted feelings that Strummer had about being a musician that uses Jamaican musical traditions in his own work without being a member of that culture. Well that’s soft pedaling it a little but that sentiment surely exists. Listen especially hard to: Safe European Home, English Civil War, Stay Free and All The Young Punks.
  • The Clash (U.S. Version) 7/79
    Close to the UK version but includes the great songs, White Man in Hammersmith Palais and Clash City Rockers
  • London Calling 1/80
    The breakout album, the one most people think of when they think of the clash, at the risk of repeating myself, buy it. Buy it twice in case you lose one copy. A special treat is the song The Guns of Brixton, 1000 points to whoever can sample this and release a rap song based on the beat. Also amazing is Jimmy Jazz and Brand New Cadillac. This album in many ways is a narrative of rebellion and a testament to the outlaw lifestyle, it’s punk rock blues.
  • Black Market Clash 10/80
    A short album, it’s got several covers of reggae and ska songs, which I enjoy. If you like the clash version of Armagideon Time definitly find the Willie Williams version.
  • Sandinista! 1/81
    Ok they’re getting a little weird here, listen to the other albums until you think you couldn’t possibly love the Clash anymore and then attack, only listening to Sandinista!. Realize what a bunch of biting no talent mallternative hacks rage against the machine are and how much they wish they could be the Clash. Check out Police on my back and Career Opportunities. Note the introduction of a tendency away from straight punk and reggae.
  • Combat Rock 5/82
    The sellout album, the crossover album. I decline to comment. Interesting tidbit: Rock The Casbah was the most requested song by US troops during the Gulf War. I find some good in ghetto defendant. This album is strangely both arty and poppy.
  • Cut The Crap 11/85
  • This one is kinda nuts, recommended only for true Clash heads. It is their satire of punk, delivered years too late and really only attacking themselves. I love it, but it’s strange.

Release dates from http://www.londonsburning.org/main_discography.html

There are also many many comps and live albums floating around, if you make it through the above and are ready for more certainly pick up The Clash on Broadway, a huge live album.

Miscellania

There is a really weird semi documentary about the Clash called Rude Boy, it’s really good both as a glimpse of them at their height and also as an amazing document of the unrest and ennui in England at the time.

Joe Strummer went on to work with the Pogues and has fronted them on several live dates, Pogues covers of Clash songs are interesting.

Joe Strummer has also been in a few movies including Mystery Train and Straight to Hell.

Mick Jones went on to form the band Big Audio Dynamite.

The greatness of the Clash, for me, was that their songs were more complex than the average. They acknowledged the complexity of their situation more readily than others, saying that it was a bit strange to rebel by being firmly involved in the kind of material culture that punk attacked. They also had more of a sense of humor about their convictions, they never tried to pretend that they were more than a bunch of goofy kids that had a few good ideas and taste for speed and lager. And so, in the end the Clash was a punk band in the best sense, but they left the punk musical format quickly and what remains is, for me, rebellious, soulful and uplifting music that thankfully transcends genre. All opinions about the quality of other bands are my own, if you like them good for you, it takes all kinds. Give The Clash a chance, if you truly hate them /msg me and I’ll buy you a Green Day album.

RIP Joe, We Love You Brother

The Clash

UK Singles Discography

Just a listing of the release dates and chart placings of all the 7" singles the Clash released in the UK during their existence. I'm not including 12" versions, imports or post-split singles (like the release of Should I Stay Or Should I Go which got to number 1 in 1991 on the back of a Levi's ad), cos it'd just lead to too much duplication and confusion on my part.

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