Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ghetto Defendants: The Story of The Clash Part Three...Show # 153

After spending a lot of 1981 touring, The Clash would go into the studio yet again in New York, to record their final album with the original line-up of the band. The producing duties of this album that would be known as Combat Rock, were done by Clash guitarist Mick Jones. After recording the album (originally it was going to be called Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg), Joe Strummer and Mick Jones had disagreements about the actual mix of the album. Joe Strummer referred to Mick Jones mix as the "Home Movie Mix". This album created a lot more conflict within the band, which ultimately lead to their demise. Glyn Johns known for his work done with The Who, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles was brought in to remix the album (some parts for some tracks would be re-recorded before being remixed). The album would be renamed Combat Rock by Strummer and it would featured the bands two biggest hits. "Rock the Casbah" was a song that was written by Clash drummer Topper Headon (he also played the piano, bass and drums on the track), Joe Strummer would do the lyrics. The song itself is a funky/rock track and was inspired by the banning of rock music in Iran. It is also said to have been influenced lyrically by their manager Bernie Rhodes who asked if everything had to sound like raga (or reggae). There is an actual line in the song "The King told the boogie-men, you have to let that raga drop" that was influenced by this incident.

"Should I Stay or Should I Go" was a Mick Jones composition that some people believe is about Jones' relationship within The Clash. Mick has stated that this is not the case, that it is actually about Ellen Foley his girlfriend at the time. Despite the fact that it may be about Mick's girlfriend, the lyrics still seem to foreshadow Jones departure from the group. The actual music is a stop and start rock song that has heavy fuzz bass on it. Joe Strummer also sings in Spanish in some parts of the song. The song would be the bands biggest hit, it would go to # 1 after it was used in a Levi's commercial. It would skyrocket the bands success, even though they were no more (it was used as a single in 1991).

The album contained a great variety of songs including "Know Your Rights" a political rant about the poor and their rights. The song was the first single released from Combat Rock and was a rock track with climbing bass and echoing guitar effects. "Car Jamming" was a funky track, "Red Angel Dragnet" was sung by bassist Paul Simonon, "Overpowered by Funk" was a dancy funk track, "Sean Flynn" was a song about the American actor of the same name, and "Ghetto Defendant" is a slow reggae rock influenced track that features American poet Allen Ginsberg. "Straight to Hell" was a longer, spacey track that lyrically referenced American soldiers in the Vietnam War that abandoned children that they fathered while they were stationed there. The song was originally seven minutes long, but was edited down to five and a half minutes for the album. The full seven minute version of the song in which Joe Strummer adds additional lyrics and hits the bass drum with a lemonade bottle can be found on the Clash on Broadway Box Set that was released in 1991. The album was a mix of funk, reggae, rap and rock and was deeply influenced by the New York scene at the time.

Mick Jones original mix of the album can be found on bootleg, it is titled Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg. On Mick Jones original mix, the songs are different. "Should I Stay or Should I Go" is a completely different version, with Joe's Spanish vocals through out the song, no fuzz bass and a horn section in the middle of it. It also contains two unused Clash tracks "The Beautiful People Are Ugly Too", and "Kill Time" both of which remain unreleased officially. Combat Rock was released in May of 1982 and climbed to # 2 on the UK and # 7 in the USA.

The Clash opened for the Who in 1982, playing stadiums becoming even bigger than they were before. Also just before the band started touring for Combat Rock, drummer Topper Headon was fired due to his drug addictions. Original Clash drummer Terry Chimes would take over for a little while. He would leave in 1983 and be replaced by drummer Pete Howard. Mick and Joe would constantly be arguing during this time. In 1983, the Clash played the US Festival. This concert was the last with guitarist Mick Jones, he would be fired shortly after this show for a variety of reasons. One was the direction the band wanted to go in. Mick and Joe had different ideas, the other was that Joe and Paul were influenced by their manager Bernie Rhodes to fire Mick, even though he was one of the main song writers for the band.

In 1984, The Clash recruited two new members to play guitar for the band, Nick Sheppard and Vince White. The Band did a tour with the new members playing new material, this period of The Clash is known as the Clash II period. Cut The Crap was their new album and it would be recorded in Munich, Germany. During this time it was evident that Rhodes wanted to be an artist and in turn got Joe to kick Mick out of the band, attempting to gain control of the group and a music career. The sessions for the album were chaotic, the songs are credited to Rhodes and Strummer. The album sounded nothing like the bands previous efforts and is disregarded as an album by most fans. It was disowned by Strummer and Simonon at a later date. The album did have one single "This is England" and the album would be released in 1985. Clash II would then go on a busking tour. Armed only with acoustics, the band would go to various places and play unplugged and unplanned. After this tour, the band split up. Mick Jones would go on to form Big Audio Dynamite, Joe would work on soundtracks and have a few movie roles and a solo career, and Paul Simonon would form the short-lived group Havana 3AM, and pursue a painting career.

The Clash ended in a mess, the band would break up just before they would have gotten really, really big. In the 90's reunion rumours were sparked by the success of "Should I Stay or Should I Go", but it never happened. In 2002, the Clash were inducted in the the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and were rumoured to play again, but this never happened, Joe Strummer would pass away due to an unexpected heart defect at the age of 50, just before the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in December of 2002. The Clash would go onto influence many.

In 1999, the entire Clash catalogue was remastered and re-released. The albums did not include any bonus tracks due to a request by Joe Strummer to keep them true to the original way the albums were released. Other interesting Clash releases include The Clash on Broadway box set which includes a variety of outtakes and b-sides, such as demos of "Career Opportunities" and "Janie Jones". "One Emotion" was an outtake from Give'em Enough Rope and "Midnight To Stevens" an outtake around the time of Sandinista! that would also be featured on the box set. Super Black Market Clash is a collection of further singles and remixes (it was itself an expanded version of the Black Market Clash EP that was originally released in 1980). In 1999, From Here To Eternity was released which was a collection of live Clash material. In 2003, The Essential Clash was released, a 2 CD greatest hits-type compilation of Clash songs, 2005 saw a remastered Legacy Edition of London Calling with a bonus disc of songs. In 2007 The Clash Singles Box Set was released. This release was a collection of all of the bands singles in replica CD form, similar to ones done by The Who and The Rolling Stones. As for DVDs, Westway To The World is a documentary of the band, Rude Boy is a movie done around the bands tour in 1978, and The Essential Clash DVD is a collection of the bands music videos, as well as some live performances. In November of 2008, Live At Shea Stadium was released on CD.

Play list from the show:

1. Neil Young – living with war
2. Richard Hell & The Voidoids – crack of dawn
3. Heatseekers – new (old) sound
4. 101ers – steamgauge 99
5. The Clash – inoculated city
6. The Clash – the beautiful people are ugly too
7. B.A.D. – v. thirteen
8. Latino Rockabilly War – trash city
9. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – coma girl
10. Carbon/Silicon – prophet
11. The Good, The Bad, and The Queen – green fields
12. Iggy Pop – new values
13. Viletones – she’s free
14. The Shades – new clientele
15. Tricky Woo – Kentucky derby/ten tons
16. Generation X – this heat
17. Young Knives – part timer
18. Radio 4 – enemies like this
19. Young Rival – the haunt (demo)
20. Sloan – in the movies
21. White Stripes – I’m slowly turning into you
22. The Visitors – I don’t belong
23. The Hives – I’m a wicked one
24. The D4 – Joe Orton’s wedding
25. Undertones – true confessions
26. Elvis Costello & The Attractions - no action

Video Clash II:

New Music Interview 1982
Combat Rock Commercial
Know Your Rights (Live US Festival 1983)
Sound of the Sinners (Live US Festival 1983)
Rock The Casbah (Live US Festival 1983)
Should I Stay or Should I Got (Shea Stadium)

A series of two radio specials I did on The Clash can be found here:

The Clash (1976-1979)
The Clash (1980-1985)


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