uk pop brigade

i've been going thru another clash obsession lately. the first clash album i'd ever bought was london calling. the reason i bought it was because it was listed as rolling stone magazine's number one album of the 80s, and i wanted to hear why. as a kid, punk rock frightened me. i didn't understand it and i didn't know anyone who did. i simply wasn't exposed to it in a good way. i'd see people on the streets with green hair, torn jeans, and slogans on the backs of their jackets and my dad would just say those were the bad kids and that i should stay away from them. that was my experience with punk rock as i was growing up.

so i bought london calling, and it was good; very different from what i expected. it didn't, however, strike me as the number one album of the 80s. i decided to try a couple other clash albums, later picking up sandinista! and combat rock. i felt there were good moments in each, but they weren't compelling enough. sandinista! alone was a lot to absorb, and it just didn't hold my attention for whatever reason. fast forward to a few years ago; something, i forget what, drew my attention to london calling once again. i figured i should give it another chance and listen to the songs i usually skipped over. this time, i was stunned. how did this album pass me by? wtf was wrong with me?

i went back to sandinista! and combat rock and amazed myself with what i'd been missing. then i went on a binge and bought most everything i could get my hands on. the UK and US versions of the debut album, give em enough rope, rockers galore (an interview disc with 9 or 10 tracks), super black market clash, from here to eternity, westway to the world (dvd) and the essential clash (another dvd). i had been advised by reviews and a few other fans to avoid cut the crap like the plague. last year, i even bought the 25th anniversary reissue of london calling just so i could check out the grainy dvd of them making the album in the studio with that crazy ass producer, along with the second disc of "vanilla tapes" demos for the album. pretty cool to hear the early versions of the songs.

i think i like the US version of the debut better than the UK version. it has more punch to it, i feel, and the UK version seems to run out of gas towards the end. i also think i enjoy the debut album more than london calling. it just has that raw sound, but still has that pop sensibility. christ, that sounds so pretentious. you know what i mean, but i can't think of any other way to say it. y'know, it's like catchy and stuff.

also, when i first put on from here to eternity, it simultaneously rocked my lame ass and bummed me out at the same time. these guys were a powerful live band and it killed me to know i'd never have a chance to see them in person. fuck, if only i had gotten into the music when i was a kid, how different things would be. i just didn't understand it back then. but goddamn, from here to eternity is a rockin album. the performances are taken from all over, but it sounds like it's one complete show. when i bought it, i thought it might be some kinda crappy posthumous record label cash in, but they did a good job on it. definitely recommended.

so here are ten clash tunes i can't live without (no order and subject to change, of course!):
  • police on my back
  • white man in hammersmith palais
  • complete control
  • guns of brixton
  • i'm not down
  • hateful
  • know your rights
  • spanish bombs
  • career opportunities
  • i'm so bored with the usa


Sharon said...

I was just saying to Thom t'other day that I need to start buying some Clash. Scary stuff, but I might start with Sandinista.

If you can't sleep tonight you could do the meme I've tagged you for. ;)


robot_hero said...

may i recommend the debut album (us)? i think it'll rock your pretty knitted socks off.

i'll take care of that meme by the end of the weekend.


Stef said...

You certainly went a bit crazy with that whole back catalogue thing. Good work!

"i think i like the US version of the debut better than the UK version. it has more punch to it, i feel, and the UK version seems to run out of gas towards the end."

What's the difference between the two versions, different track listing?

robot_hero said...

the US version omits "deny", "cheat", "protex blue", and "48 hours".

the UK version omits "clash city rockers", "complete control", "(white man) in hammersmith palais", "i fought the law", and "jail guitar doors".

i dunno, to me it just feels like the US version is stronger and more consistent. if i had to choose, i'd easily take all the US-only tracks over the UK-only tracks...but that's just me. darn, this sounds like a US vs. UK thing when it's not. stupid record label.

Stef said...

Isn't the US version an amalgam of two UK releases?

That often happens when UK bands try to break the US. Robbie Williams (Ack!) US debut, The Ego Has Landed is just the best tracks off his first two UK albums... Think a similar thing happend with the first two Australian AC/DC albums too.