It seems to me as if there is no point in my consciousness where The Clash weren’t there. I don’t think there are any albums in my entire collection that get played as much or have the same energising effect on me. That means energy just on a real basic primal level, but also on a consciousness raising level too. The Clash make you want to go out there and do something significant; they make you want to change the world; bring on a revolution.
I never bought the albums in sequential order so the order in which I rank them in my mind differs from a lot of people. My favourite album is Combat Rock
– I love the experimental nature of some of the tracks and some of the cultural references (Taxi Driver for one) and the fact that Allen Ginsberg is on there. London Calling
has my favourite track on it: Guns Of Brixton
and that makes this album second on my list. Third comes Black Market Clash
– a compilation that works better in the slimmer edition than it did in Super Black Market Clash
re-release, at least for me — it has some great versions of songs I already loved. Sandinista
has some good tracks but is flabby in comparison to the other Clash albums but it is by no means the worst album. The title of worst Clash album is reserved for Cut The Crap
which sounds like it was recorded by a bunch of football fans who stumbled into the studio — it lacks the drive, the lyrics, the anger; it basically lacks anything that would make it feel like a Clash album. Give ‘Em Enough Rope
pulls in ahead of Sandinista
and is pretty much neck and neck
with London Calling
because it was one of the first albums I bought by them and I actually think it might be the album I think of as typifying their sound if asked (I am probably wrong on this, but it is what I think). Lastly comes the first album, which has some great tracks on it and burns through your consciousness like a short fuse — I really like the album but it is not the one I reach for when I want to listen to the band.
So, am I typical Clash fan? Fuck knows. You kind of hope that your heroes might respect what you do, where you stand, and who you are. I remember feeling the death of Joe Strummer like a blow to the solar plexus. He was one of the few who survived punk and remained relevant. John Lydon managed it with PIL but then slipped when he reformed the Sex Pistols and now seems happy to be punk mascot for the daytime tv crew. Sometimes there is nothing so sad as an old punk. But Joe was still a force to be reckoned with.
They were and are iconic. I think they programmed a lot of my sensibilities. I wanted to dress like them. Wanted to write words that set fires like theirs did. Wanted to hit the establishment hard, and wanted to look fucking cool like they did. Weren’t they just the coolest motherfuckers alive?
You can hear The Clash in a lot of places, hear their influence, feel their effect. That music is still vital, still packs a punch. Hasn’t been diluted and sprinkled over too many adverts. When I think of punk I think of them, and god knows they roamed far and wide from the template, but that made them more punk than anything else. They led the pack and it is sad how a band gone for this long still seem miles ahead of half the musicians we have around today. Hmm, nostalgia seems so out of place in a rambling about The Clash. Shit, I must be getting old.