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Saturday, 8 April 2017

40 Years of Punk & New Wave 1977: The Clash - Debut Album


 Listen to The Album Here
The Clash - The Clash
Produced by Mickey Foote
Released April 1977 
UK Chart #12

US Chart #126*

*The album was not actually released in the USA until July 1979 with a revised Tracklist that included some of the band's singles. It did sell a lot (reportedly 100,000 copies!) on import though at the time of its release.

Side One
Side Two
The Clash
Joe Strummer − lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitar, lead guitar on 48 Hours
Mick Jones − lead guitar, backing vocals and lead vocals on Protex Blues
Paul Simonon − bass guitar
Terry Chimes* (listed as Tory Crimes) − drums

*Although Terry Chimes had already decided to leave the band he did return for the recording of the album and departed not too long afterwards. A new drummer would be in place for the up and coming White Riot Tour, a lad named Nicky "Topper" Headon.

What's With The Red Sticker
On The Inner Sleeve?
The Capitol Radio EP was released on 9 April 1977, and was given away to readers who sent off the coupon printed in the NME, plus the above red sticker found on the band's debut studio album. It was produced by Mickey Foote and engineered by Simon Humphrey. The interview was with the NME's Tony Parsons.

 A1 Listen   
A2 Interview - Tony Parsons - The Clash
Listen Here To A-Side.
B1 Interview - Tony Parsons - The Clash    
B2 Capitol Radio
Listen Here To The B-Side.

The Interview by Parsons had been in the 2nd April 1977 edition of NME

Singles On The Clash
White Riot* / 1977
 Released 18th March 1978
UK Chart #38

* The Single version was a little bit different to the Album version.

Remote Control / London's Burning
Released 13th May 1977
Did Not Chart

The B-Side, London's Burning, was a Live Version, though you honestly would never have known that listening to it as there is absence of any crowd noise!
The band were none too happy that CBS released it as a single and they would hit back later in the year with the mighty impressive Complete Control.

(The Clash 1977 Photo by Chalkie Davies)

Whilst the Sex Pistols were looking for Record Company #3 to sign to (they had only survived a week at A&M before being dumped), The Clash had signed on the dotted line with CBS, recorded their debut album over the course of three weekends, released their Debut Single White Riot to much fanfare and were set to unleash their first major Public Service Annoucement with the release of the Debut Album.

So on this day in April 1977, 40 Years Ago! The moment of truth had arrived. Were The Clash just a bunch of sloganeers with a catchy tune or two or were they the voice that was finally coming out from behind the shadow of the Sex Pistols and making themselves heard on their own terms? 

It was pretty rough sounding (they would be more polished come the making of their second album), it was angry, it was loaded with 14 furious songs that spotlighted everything from the despair of the Inner City (London's Burning) to self-mythology (Garageland); violence (Hate and War) to self-discovery (What's My Name); town hall corruption (Remote Control) to making a stand against the times (White Riot); and future job prospects (Career Opportunities) to facing up to the truth (Deny).

It was a fine opening shot and one that they would build upon over the coming years. 

Forty Years on there are elements of it that are still pretty current, even if it does sound a little rough around the edges!

 (Photo by Kate Simon)

Before we go any further it is worth pointing out that Mark Perry of Sniffin' Glue had a change of heart regarding The Clash (and you know, it's okay to change your mind about things). He had previously declared that Punk died the day The Clash had signed to CBS and that quote seems to have stuck around without any mention of what he had to say regarding the Debut Album by The Clash.

Well, this is what he said in Sniffin' Glue:

Tony Parsons, writing for the NME said,
  "The Clash have made an album that consists of some of the most exciting rock 'n' roll in contemporary music. Whether the great mass of British Youth can get into the sometimes painful but incisive reality of what the band are about is another matter. But they chronicle our lives and what it's like to be young in the Stinking '70s better than any other band, and they do it with style, flash and excitement. 
I urge you to get your hands on a copy of this album. The strength of the nation lies in its youth." - (NME 16th April 1977)

Michael Oldfield writing for Melody Maker said:
"As an album, The Clash is much as you'd expect: raucous, basic and should go down a treat with the Blank Generation. Thank God 'I'm too old to have to enjoy it'." (Melody Maker 16th April 1977)

The People Have Their Say...
Yesterday on the Facebook among some friends and in the Group Punk...New Wave77...Now I posted a wee thing asking these four questions:
1. How old were you when The Clash released their debut album?
2. What is your favourite track off of the album?
3. How did the album impact your own life or thinking? (if you could give an example in a particular way that would be helpful)
4. Do you have any specific Clash related memories from 1977 that you would like to share (it doesn't have to be a huge story)?

Here are some of the responses:
Nikolas Armes: "14 years old. Garageland." - Middlesbrough UK.

Peter Oliver: "16 nearly 17 years old. Career Opportunities." - Birmingham, UK.

JoΓ£o Bnews Almeida: "ok, let´s do it...
1. How old - 7
2. Favourite track - a struggle between "White Riot" and "I'm So Bored with the USA" (beside, "Career Opportunities" and "London's Burning")
3. Album impact -yes, but around 1982 (was 12 then)."

- Lisbon, Portugal.

Charles Furniss: "I was 16, my favourite track used to be Janie Jones (the greatest opening track ever!) but I think I now prefer What's My Name. The whole album went some way to shaping my political views for the next 40 years. My abiding memory is of the first time I heard White Riot (the single version) on the radio and thinking 'what a racket'!" - Warwickshire, UK

Lester McCoy: "11.....
Janie Jones.
The impact of the crackle and drum intro to Janie Jones cannot be over emphasised enough. Prior to that it was ELO etc.... this changed everything. Saved up and bought a guitar and Bert Weedons 'play in a day' book for £18 and that was that.... still German tour in three weeks!
Saw the group 15-20 times...ligged a couple of times with them in 78/79.
And am Mick Jones as well in a Clash Tribute group. I've been Mick since I was 11/12."
(I think Lester is in Scotland!)

Shaun Hogg: "15 What's My Name one of the greatest tracks ever made short sharp and to the point , was still at school Punk was not big in Isle Of Man only one or two most in to Quo grrrrr , changed my way of thinking gave me confidence to do what ever i wanted . Never got to see them live, Geography and age although i did bring a Clash tribute band to the Island and they where very good." - Isle of Man

Barry Sax: "Unfortunately I was only 5 at the time the album came out, but I was aware of punk , as my cousin David was a punk at the time, my fave track of the album is probably London's Burning, although there is so many great songs to chose from. The Clash taught me about politics, two of my fave Clash related memories are my own band The Cherry Reds playing Guns of Brixton in a Reclaim The Streets Rally gig in the middle of Brixton High Street, and recording a version of White Riot in the recording studio, and thinking it was a big powerful sound." - UK (I think)

Tony Taylor: "Was 15 when it came out was just starting listening to The Damned's New Rose. But this was magnificent so many good ones on there but maybe Jamie jones for me ,went to my first gig in '78 The Clash with The Specials, got in to watch the sound check Mick 'n' Joe rowing. About timing. Joe said Mick was coming in too quick, Mick said the opposite ,went back stage after Glen Matlock was there with the ferrets of Camden town. Not bad for a first ever gig." - Leicester, UK

Angus Brown: "I was 15, my favourite track is probably London's Burning, I went to see the Clash on the White Riot tour, it was at The Playhouse Edinburgh.I remember quite a lot about it. I remember Palmolive's drumming (I probably shouldn't mention what I particularly remember about Palmolive* drumming - I was an impressionable kid with hormones coursing through my body - you can use your imagination). I can remember it being heaving and sweaty, and we broke down about the first three rows of seats. I knew that punk rock was for me." - Edinburgh, Scotland (*Palmolive was the Drummer for The Slits for those unaware - Doug)

Rupert Todd: "I was four when The Clash debut was released, music was limited to nursery rhymes and songs on the radio. Punks we're just clowns avoided on visits to town.

It wasn't until the mid-eighties that I warily approached The Clash because they were name-checked by so many bands I loved. I knew a few songs, and wasn't that impressed.

Even then I didn't pick-up their debut, I approached them by the convoluted route of Essential Clash, London Calling, Give 'em Enough Rope. To the angry young man it meant so much more than the angry music I was hearing, even if it was a decade after it was released, because it appeared to have a sense of optimism and desire for change.

It's hard to pick a favourite, but when I think of the album with the eyes of a teenager I always return to London's Burning"
- Stoke, UK

Michele Jaffe Stork: "Well… it’s a bit complicated for an American, because OUR debut Clash album was Give 'Em Enough Rope, and The Clash was the second album here. But since you are from over there – I’ll go with that. πŸ˜‰ I was 7 years old, so didn’t actually get into them until a little bit later.
Favourite track off of the album? Challenging choice, but it would have to be Career Opportunities.

 I didn’t listen to the album until Mtv introduced me to them – so a little bit later. But I was fascinated – there were these catchy tunes but with anger and force behind them. It opened my eyes to a world outside of my own, and definitely helped point me in the direction of rebellion of the “norm” at the time.

Clash related memories from 1977... Nothing from 1977 unfortunately. But later on, my older brother bought a Clash album – and I stole it. I was probably about 12 years old, and I'm still proud of that!
πŸ˜€" - New Jersey, USA

 Peter Frostick: "18, Whats my name? Saw then on White Riot tour and at the Rainbow in '77 Loved the first Album." - Chelmsford, UK

Nathan Seaton: "This album is still special , every listen." - Ossett, West Yorkshire, UK

George Houstoun: "I was 20. I bought the album in Glasgow but was living in London. I love all of it. Hate and War probably my fave." - London, UK

Peter Squires: "Not quite 15..Garage Land . Main memory being everybody seemed to have it. Didn't actualy buy my own copy until 79. Kind of concur with Parsons and Burchill in "The Boy Looked at Johnny" that within 6 months it had become as quaint as Mersey Beat. The Clash like most punk bands then had a big problem following up. And probably the band which evolved the furthest." - Halifax, UK

Sven SΓ€ge StΓΆwer: "1. 8 Born in Germany
2. White Riot
3. Dont know - Its still my (Punk) Life
4. No, i was 8 :) - But i can tell you a lot of stories when i was 13."
- Cuxhaven, Germany

Craig Campbell: "As I have said on many a 'punk' site, the first Clash album is really the only one worth bothering about and if their supposedly 'situationist' manager was genuine, he should have let it all implode after the release of the LP!" - Ramsgate, UK

Pauline Woods: "Well, I was 16 and to be honest it was all about the Sex Pistols at the time. They were the band who were making all the waves for me. My exposure to The Clash first came about via a colleague who was potty about Joe Strummer. I remember vividly her being distraught when he went AWOL for a time. I really didn't connect with their music until around 84/85 when I met Simon who was/is a huge fan and then I really got into their music and realised that whilst the Sex Pistols really challenged the status quo it was all rhetoric, albeit necessary snd rebellious rhetoric, whereas The Clash I think we're more considered and have stood the test of time better. With regard to favourite tracks I'd have to say White Riot purely because it's the one I'm most familiar with. Know more from subsequent albums I guess." - Dronfield, UK

Paul Pigott: "16 years old, police and thieves. Bought the album complete with red sticker but never got round to sending it off for the free EP(can't remember if it was with sounds or melody maker, but i had the coupon). One of my all time favourite albums that i still spin when a touch of class is required. 40 years! Where did they go..." - UK

And my own answers to the questions:
Doug Watson (Soundtrack4Life): "I was 13 years old, a month away from my 14th birthday. My favourite track on the album changes from time to time but always close to the top of the pile is the amazing cover version of Police and Thieves. That showed how vital Reggae was to Punk in the early days and also with that added sense of danger spoke of the times that we were living in.
It made an immediate impact on my life and thinking as the lyrics made sense when you could discern what Strummer was singing about, and he wasn't really sounding like 'a demented seal barking over a load of pneumatic drills' (as he had been described by their US Label Chief) but rather like an angry prophet confronting the state of the nation at the time. It made you think about where you lived and what you could possibly change in that town or city for the better. It gave voice to the longings at such a young age that I could make something of myself regardless of my education etc.
As for memories of 1977 regarding The Clash, well I think I played White Riot single so many times prior to the album coming out that I wore it out. The album would be a constant companion, and I think I read every interview of the band across the music press to discover what else they had to say." - London (when the album was released) but now Wishaw, Scotland

Lastly, a Dedication
To The Late Great Joe Strummer
Still Missed

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