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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

S4L Presents: The Best Debut Albums #13 - The Clash

8th April 1977, that's a day that's seared into the mind and heart of everyone who was ever a Punk Rocker because it was the day that The Clash released their Debut Album on CBS.
Click on the links to enjoy the music.

 Produced by Mickey Foote
UK Chart #12
US Chart #126
Sweden #42

In February 1993, the New Musical Express magazine ranked the album number 13 in its list of The Greatest Albums of All Time. NME also ranked The Clash number 3 in its list of The Greatest Albums of the '70s, and wrote in the review that "the speed-freaked brain of punk set to the tinniest, most frantic guitars ever trapped on vinyl. Lives were changed beyond recognition by it".

The Clash 1977 Photo by Chalkie Davies

CBS in America had deemed the album as "not radio friendly" and chose not to release the album until 1979 and in doing so revamped the album totally! More than 100,000 copies of the 1977 original had been imported to the States prior to the release of their version!

Omitted from the US version were the following tracks: 
  • "Deny"
  • "Cheat"
  • "Protex Blue"
  • "48 Hours"
  • "White Riot" (original version)
 Added were the following tracks:
  • "Clash City Rockers" - Initially released as a single (A-side) in the UK in February 1978
  • "Complete Control" - Initially released as a single (A-side) in the UK in September 1977
  • "White Riot" (re-recorded version) - Initially released as a single (A-side) in the UK in March 1977
  • "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais" - Initially released as a single (A-side) in the UK in June 1978
  • "I Fought the Law" - Initially released as a track on the Clash EP The Cost of Living in the UK in May 1979
  • "Jail Guitar Doors" - Initially released as the B-side to "Clash City Rockers" in the UK in February 1978  
In his 1979 consumer guide for The Village Voice, critic Robert Christgau gave the album's US import an A rating and stated, "Cut for cut, this may be the greatest rock and roll album (plus limited-edition bonus single) ever manufactured in the U.S. It offers 10 of the 14 titles on the band's British debut as well as 7 of the 13 available only on 45. The U.K. version of The Clash is the greatest rock and roll album ever manufactured anywhere"

A free single was given away with the US version of the album and the two tracks 'Gates of the West' and 'Groovy Times' had both been released on 'The Cost of Living EP' alongside 'Capital Radio' and 'I Fought the Law' two months earlier in the UK.

I was a month away from my 14th birthday when the debut album was released in the UK and I can never forget the excitement of hearing the album for the first time. It was some of the angriest and most energetic music I can ever remember hearing. It was rough sounding as well (none of the polish that their 2nd album 'Give 'Em Enough Rope' had) just like their live shows at the time. There was also something else about the album that was great and that was the lyrics in some of the songs were like a reflection of what was going on in my own thoughts and that's a good thing because The Clash did have something to say and as a kid it was great to hear it set in the back drop of such fantastic music.
It's quite strange listening to it again 38 years down the road. Some of the songs even sound like they are still speaking into our lives in big and small ways: 

"This time he's gonna really tell the boss
Gonna really let him know exactly how he feels" (Janie Jones)
- more than a few of us would love to do that more than once a day in our working situations!

"Who needs the Parliament
Sitting making laws all day
They're all fat and old
Queuing for the House of Lords" (Remote Control)
- totally spot on as well for today as we are heading here in the UK toward the General Election!
The dissatisfaction with Government that is so strong today was around back then as well (and the Politicians haven't changed that much from the words written by Mick Jones and Joe Strummer).

"All the power's in the hands
Of people rich enough to buy it" (White Riot)
- not much has changed since 1977 this is still the case!

"Hate and war - the only things we got today" (Hate and War) - still got that in abundance in the world today!

"What the hell is wrong with me? I'm not who I want to be
I tired spot cream an' I tried it all I'm crawling up the wall!" (What's My Name)
- in an age of the Social Media Explosion we are still trying to find our identity and sense of belonging and are still unknown!

"Black or white turn it on, face the new religion
Everybody's sitting 'round watching television!" (London's Burning)
- though today it would probably be our iPhones, Smart Phones and Computer Screens!

"They offered me the office, offered me the shop
They said I'd better take anything they'd got" (Career Opportunities)
- and the Government today are still forcing people into jobs they are probably going to end up hating! People out of work really have no choice, either take it or you get nothing!

"if you wanna survive you better learn how to lie" (Cheat) - not that I would condone this myself but it still seems to be the way to get what you need that you have to be dishonest. It's a sad fact of life that honesty is not rewarded!

"Scaring the nation with their guns and ammunition
Police and thieves in the street" (Police and Thieves)
- You only have to pick up a paper or read the news to see the rise of gun violence on the streets of our Cities, and it's not just the 'Thieves' carrying them and causing havoc! Heard today about the situation in South Carolina with the cop shooting an unarmed man!

"I don't wanna hear about what the rich are doing
I don't wanna go to where the rich are going
They think they're so clever, they think they're so right
But the truth is only known by guttersnipes" (Garageland)
- I still hold to this even today! The Elite (the rich - and of course not everyone who is financially sound is a creep these days!) always think they are better off than us mere proles!

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