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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Clash Clash

posted by on April 17 at 12:21 PM

Okay, this debate is probably better suited to an old-age home, but for the record: Purist Clash fans who came up with the “Groovy Times/Gates to the West” single back in my day, need to let it go and just admit it, Combat Rock is their best album. Yes, we hated it at the time: dance-y, pop sell out and all that, but have you listened to it lately? Start with “Straight to Hell” and get back to me.

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I'm very glad you were never my friend. Combat Rock was officially their last album. I hope this is your last post ever.

Posted by bonehead's girlfriend | April 17, 2007 12:33 PM

josh, maybe you are still drunk from the gong show last week? combat rock does not even come close to the brilliance that was the clash. it is one of their weakest efforts, clouded with record label concessions and painful attempts at reaching a larger audience.

i advise you re-think this preposterous statement.

Posted by kerri harrop | April 17, 2007 1:14 PM

Wrong Kerri Harrop. Go back and listen. It's not the sell out 80s album we thought at the time. It's down right avant garde. Yeah, yeah I know Should I Stay or Should I Go is silly, but check it, check it. Car Jamming, Inoculated City, and again, Straight to Hell. It's not what you remember. It's Sandanisita boiled down into a accessible art pop.

Posted by Josh Feit | April 17, 2007 1:21 PM

Sandinista was the LP with Straight to Hell, wasn't it?

Posted by Brakhage | April 17, 2007 1:32 PM

While I don't think it's the best record, Straight to Hell is my favorite Clash song. Kerri, you're a jackass

Posted by Chad Showbox | April 17, 2007 1:32 PM

I prefer London Calling, but that's just me.

Posted by elswinger | April 17, 2007 1:48 PM

Right on, Josh.

Posted by Eric Grandy | April 17, 2007 1:50 PM

straight to hell is undoubtedly one of the best songs EVER. chad, you have sung it to me enough times to make both of us jackasses.

it doesn't make combat rock brilliant, though.

Posted by kerri harrop | April 17, 2007 1:51 PM

"Overpowered By Funk" is a favorite track of mine (though Futura's rhyme is weak), but I prefer "Sandanista" above all other Clash albums. Sprawling, messy, and a perfect document of all the best music of the era. Dub, Reggae, proto hip-hop, Rockabilly, Disco, Rock, etc. Beautiful and strange. Sounds more like a mix tape from New York, circa 1980, than a unified album, which is fine by me.

Posted by DCM | April 17, 2007 2:19 PM

Agree that Sandanista is a masterpiece—very much for the reasons you say DCM: "NYC Mix Tape." The whole thing is like a 3am radio show on WBAI where it's 3am for three straight hours.

Also, the dub, "Third World" thing is excellently played. Those guys were serious musicians.

Oh, another great song from Combat Rock: Ghetto Defendant.

Posted by Josh Feit | April 17, 2007 2:37 PM

I hated "Combat Rock" when it came out for typically lame "it's a sell out" reasons.

But eventually tracks like "Ghetto Defendant" really showed what the band was trying to do, and I think about half the record is some of the very best Clash music ever made.

Posted by Chris Estey | April 17, 2007 2:42 PM

The Clash are my favorite band and I love Combat Rock because of that. But it is, by NO MEANS, better than London Calling. It just isn't.

Posted by Baxter | April 17, 2007 2:50 PM

Sorry Josh, I've gotta go with Kerri on this -- one good song does not an album make.

That said, can I pick a favorite? Hell no. But I do know that Combat Rock is definitely the least likely candidate.

Posted by rlv | April 17, 2007 3:06 PM

For years, I regarded no Clash album higher than the band's self-titled debut, mostly because it was my introduction to punk as a teen and it's hard to beat a song like "Complete Control." But I've gotta agree that "London Calling" is the apex of what the band did. For perspective in this debate: Anything by the Clash is worlds better than 99 percent of everybody else's music. RIP Joe Strummer.

Posted by Scoop | April 17, 2007 3:17 PM

I like to imagine Josh was overstating his case to point out the remarkable fact that the much-maligned CR is now even considered in the running for ultimate Clash album.

But I'm a glass-half-full kind of guy.

(And I like Combat Rock just fine, but as a work of art, it's several steps behind the debut and London Calling. And I think Josh might be one of those "London Calling sucks" kind of guys.)

Posted by David Schmader | April 17, 2007 3:19 PM

The Clash is old news. Josh is dead before the ship even sank. He probably wears Levi jeans, and he thinks it's funny, turning rebellion into money.

Posted by Feit man in the Palais | April 17, 2007 3:38 PM

Good intentions do not a good album make. London Calling is by far the best Clash album. Combat Rock and Sandanista are too "expreimental" for my taste. Not that I think a band shouldn't evolve, I just don't like how those later albums turned out.

Posted by The_Pope_Of_Chili_Town | April 17, 2007 4:03 PM

I like Combat Rock fine but is in my opinion only a good 80's album. Tracks like " Ghetto Defendant" , " Over Powered By Funk" and " Straight To Hell" are still fresh as ever but " Rock The Casbah " and " Should I Stay Or Should I Go" are best suited for weddings and high school reunions.

My choice.
The Clash s/t. Uk pressing from 77. The Us version is good but the uk one is a better listen. Just saying.

Posted by biggie j guitar player for amplified rock outfit SSS | April 17, 2007 4:29 PM

no way. Between CR and Sandinista, only Sandinista has grown in my brain, and I think it's my favorite now, as an adult, precisely because it's full of crazy stuff and dumb mistakes. The record humanizes the band for me. Formally, I think I have to pin London Calling as their best work when regarded strickly from a rockist viwepoint, but nothing can hold a candle to the UK-engineered version of the first record (mine has a blue cover, dunno if that was par or not).

I do, it must be admitted, truly love my 10" vinyl Black Market Clash, though, and curse the fools that remastered it for Super Black Market Clash.

Ah, Joe. Whydya go and leave like that?

Posted by mike | April 17, 2007 4:34 PM

we hated it at the time? dude, you're way older than you look.

Posted by Laurel | April 17, 2007 4:42 PM

Side note: Listen to the Soul Jazz "New York Noise" comps, Volumes 1 through 3, and their "Big Apple Rappin" double disc and then, well hell, half of everything Soul Jazz has released ... then listen to Sandanista ... all will become clear. At their peak, the Clash knew how to respectfully absorb everything they heard, and spin gold.

Posted by DCM | April 17, 2007 5:23 PM

It has aged amazingly well. And if it was a 'sell out', hey, that's probably why it was the first punk record to reach me in Simi Valley, California in 1984. I think 'Give Em Enough Rope' is the best Clash album, but hey, I'm nuts.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | April 17, 2007 5:56 PM

I could never pick one single Clash album as their best, I tend to like particular songs. I'd never say Combat Rock is their best...that's ridiculous. If I had to pick one, it'd have to be the first record. I seem to gravitate towards (Super)Black Market Clash...specifically Radio Clash, I can stop hitting repeat on that one. I think it's my favorite Clash song ever.

Posted by Sally Struthers Lawnchair | April 17, 2007 6:46 PM

Ahhh, memories. Elementary school, year end Talent Show. 1983, and after a month helping my buddy with the chords, our 8th grade trio, The P.O.W.'s, rocked K thru 8. Courtesy of the older brothers syndrome, the drummer and I led the final act into "Set the House Ablaze" off of The Jam's Sound Affects. Due to the applause, sort of unawares at the time, but verified by a cassete recording, we came back for an encore of "Should I Stay or Should I Go." Fun times. I think we even got a louder response than an earlier act of two nuns singing "We don't need no education."

Posted by groot | April 17, 2007 7:30 PM

Combat Rock? Are you fucking kidding me guys. If it hadn't been for the Clash putting that out, everyone on this thread would be shitting all over it

Posted by ilikewhitebelts | April 17, 2007 7:36 PM

What? Is no one going to sing the praises of "Cut the Crap?"

Me, either.

I always liked "Combat Rock." Still do. "Know Your Rights" was one of the best "first song on an album" songs ever. There's a couple of songs that don't quite work, but it's a good listen.

Underrated at the time? Perhaps. Shouldn't be overrated now, though...

I think it's third (and maybe even tied for third) on my list of favorite Clash albums, though.

1) London Calling (perfect distillation of everything they ever wanted to be)
2) The Clash (Hey! Punks dig The Who!)
3) (tie) Combat Rock and Give Em Enough Rope
4) Sandanista (Yeah...well, I loved the Huskers but I never got into "Zen Arcade" either...)

pg--Still a big fan of "This Is Radio Clash"...EVERYBODY HOLD ON TIGHT!!!

Posted by pgreyy | April 18, 2007 2:42 AM

I don't have much to add; just wanted to throw a vote the way of London Calling.

Posted by Eric | April 18, 2007 6:28 AM

Stop smoking combat rock.

Two words.

that is all.

Posted by missval | April 18, 2007 8:21 AM

Combat Rock is solid. I really like Ghetto Defendant, Know Your Rights and of course Straight to Hell.

I'd pick the self-titled (US version)for my favorite because of the sheer amount of songs I worship on it compared to their other albums. I won't list them all, but White Man in Hammersmith is by far my favorite song of theirs.

Posted by Addis | April 18, 2007 12:33 PM

i've been of the impression that combat rock, minus "overpowered by funk", "should i stay or should i go", and "rock the casbah" would be one of the best e.p.'s ever released. "straight to hell", "inoculated city", "know your rights" and "death is a star" are all some of the best work the clash ever did. but then again, i am of the belief that the clash were, hands down, THE BEST BAND TO EVER EXIST. and, while it's very tough to pick which is their best album... oh who am i kidding, give 'em enough rope is the best album IN THE WORLD. the rest of the clash's catalog is the bench mark that all music should be measured by. not because of musical "styles" or "genres", but because, as a band, the clash showed what the possibilities of rock and roll could be.

the clash came into existence by raising the bar, raising the stakes, and becoming "the only band that matters".

... yeah, i like 'em!

Posted by eric greenwalt | April 18, 2007 3:26 PM

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