Rock the Casbah was released as a single
by the clash
on the 11th and 18th of June, 1982, with the b-sides (respectively) Long Time Jerk
and Mustapha Dance
, both of which are available on the Black Market Clash
album. AFAIR, Mustapha Dance is a dub
version of Rock the Casbah. The song also appeared on the clash's last album (I'm not counting Cut The Crap
) Combat Rock
The video for Rock the Casbah is halfway between funny and racist. It features a Jewish Rabbi and an Arabian Sheik running around the place, apparently chasing an armadillo. This is interspersed by scenes of the band themselves playing the song near an oil-pump in the desert.
The music was for Rock the Casbah was written almost entirely by Topper Headon. According to the sleeve notes on Clash On Broadway, the Clash box-set, Topper had a piano riff in his head for a while, and one day, went down to the studio to record it. He also recorded the drum and bass track, by himself. When the rest of the group showed up, Joe had some lyrics that fit, but he song had four verses, whereas Topper's tune only had two. So, they ended up splicing the tape, to play Topper's recording twice.
Quote from Joe Strummer, from the sleeve notes of On Broadway, on the lyrics:
"We found that whenever we played a tune on the Combat Rock sessions, it would be six minutes minimum. After a few days of this, Bernie came down to the studio, and I think he heard 'Sean Flynn', and he said, 'Does everything have to be as long as a raga?' From then on we called everything we did ragas...I got back to the Irooquois Hotel that night and wrote on the typewriter 'The King told the boogie men you got to let that raga drop.' I looked at it and for some reason I started to think about what someone had told me earlier, that you got lashed for owning a disco record in Iran. So I transferred it from Bernie, to these religious leaders who tried to stop people listening to music"
Rock The Casbah was the first song played by the U.S.'s Armed Forces Radio
at the start of the Gulf War