Line Out Music & the City at Night

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"There is no punk band more overrated than The Clash."

Posted by on Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 12:08 PM

So says Chunklet zine impresario Henry Owings on Twitter. He continues: "If they weren't on Sony, they'd have aged as well as any given bar band. FACT."

I'm not the world's biggest Clash aficionado, but this observation (not FACT, Hank; I don't care if you use all caps—it's just your fookin' opinion) seems misguided. I'd even put the Sex Pistols ahead of the Clash in the "overrated punk band" sweepstakes.

True, the Clash's agitprop lyrics seem somewhat laughable—no matter how passionately they believed and delivered them—when you consider they were bankrolled by a mega-corporation, but musically their rock was consistently catchy without being cloying and rugged without being ludicrously macho. The Clash's music filled you with adrenaline, but it usually came across as a positive, smart rush, not one that inspired destructive behavior. They also did much to broaden the minds of their punk-obsessed fans, dabbling decently with reggae, dub, jazz, and hiphop. Even if their sincere good intentions outweighed their chops, the Clash's eclecticism ultimately was a spur to many listeners to explore other genres.

But let's open up this contentious issue to Line Out readers. Which punk band do you think is the most overrated?

(My favorite Clash song. I know—it's not very punk rock.)

 

Comments (58) RSS

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1
The Ramones are the single most overrated band of all time, period.
Posted by Bassdropper on December 29, 2009 at 12:20 PM · Report this
Keekee 2
@2:
Gots to agree with you on that one.

Ooh, and the Clash were only Punk Rock on their debut album.
Posted by Keekee on December 29, 2009 at 12:25 PM · Report this
3
Putting out one issue of your magazine every three years: overrated or totally punk rock?
Posted by Eric Grandy on December 29, 2009 at 12:29 PM · Report this
4
^: Punk rock.

Also, thirded on the Ramones being THEE most underrated punk band of all time.

Posted by Jeff on December 29, 2009 at 12:36 PM · Report this
5
You're the same staff member who posted recently calling out The Dismemberment Plan as being overrated or something, right?

Can I predict an upcoming Lineout post?

"NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL: Big deal!"
"Pavement -- fuck 'em!"

So fucking edgy, such original reading.
Posted by Nick on December 29, 2009 at 12:38 PM · Report this
6
@5: Actually, that was our other Dave S., Dave Schmader—easy mistake to make (mixing up your Daves, that is, not mistaking the D-Plan as overrated).

Also, fourthed or fifthed or whatever on the Ramones—what a stupid, stupid band.
Posted by Eric Grandy on December 29, 2009 at 12:46 PM · Report this
cosby 7
*cough* Fugazi *cough*

Not trying to get into semantics about post-hardcore v. punk. Just saying.
Posted by cosby http://www.myspace.com/cosbyshownights on December 29, 2009 at 12:51 PM · Report this
cosby 8
P.S.: Social Distortion, I see you.
Posted by cosby http://www.myspace.com/cosbyshownights on December 29, 2009 at 12:52 PM · Report this
J. Burns 9
All this Ramones hate is blowing my mind a little bit. Really, dudes?
Posted by J. Burns on December 29, 2009 at 12:58 PM · Report this
alithea 10
i bet more people erroneously worship CRASS, being ignorant or ill informed of their catalog and history, than the clash. i think thats a far worse event than simply being overrated.

the clash were forward thinking in their adaptation of reggae/rocksteady into punk, and also helping launch the careers of the specials, etc.
Posted by alithea on December 29, 2009 at 12:59 PM · Report this
11
weren't the ramones basically a joke band? They succeed on that level.
Posted by Kevin Erickson on December 29, 2009 at 1:00 PM · Report this
marsgirl 12
We are entitled to our own opinions but not to our own facts. And it is a fact that The Clash rule/ruled/will continue to rule.
Posted by marsgirl http://myspace.com/marquettamiller on December 29, 2009 at 1:02 PM · Report this
tallchris 13
I'm kind of blown away anytime I meet someone who doesn't like anything of the first four Ramones records.
Posted by tallchris http://policeteeth.bandcamp.com on December 29, 2009 at 1:07 PM · Report this
Brian Cook 14
Misfits. not that they're really all that bad, but i think their branding was a whole lot more memorable than their actual songs.

i will confess that i always found The Ramones to be pretty dull, though.
Posted by Brian Cook http://www.last.fm/user/bubblegutz on December 29, 2009 at 1:10 PM · Report this
J. Burns 15
Also, it needs to be said that for all their eclecticism, the Clash released two brilliant albums, and four or five that run the gamut from mediocre to unlistenable.
Posted by J. Burns on December 29, 2009 at 1:11 PM · Report this
16
The Clash made a couple fine records, and a couple of uninteresting, self-indulgent records. I have to say that reggae/rocksteady are probably the worst admixtures punk has ever been exposed to. Replacing urgency and enthusiasm with its exact opposite is not a recipe for success.

The Ramones, like a lot of bands, had a limited bag of tricks...but those were some pretty great tricks.

Posted by Chris Jury http://www.thebismarck.net on December 29, 2009 at 1:23 PM · Report this
very bad homo 17
Who could hate The Ramones?

The Clash were just ok. Sex Pistols? Total joke.
Posted by very bad homo on December 29, 2009 at 1:23 PM · Report this
18
Wow, I misread. I'm in the pro-Ramones camp just to clarify.

Anyone that's seen "End of the Century" knows why.

Posted by Jeff on December 29, 2009 at 1:26 PM · Report this
lolagirl 19
Just Because you're liked doesn't make you exempt from being overrated. So I must also vote Ramones on this one. I like the Ramones but they're no Clash, yo!
Posted by lolagirl on December 29, 2009 at 1:26 PM · Report this
J. Burns 20
@Jury, I don't mind the reggae/dub stuff, as I'm a fan of the idiom. I think the Clash's biggest problem is that they lacked an editor.

BTdubs, I'm casting my official vote for The Exploited.
Posted by J. Burns on December 29, 2009 at 1:27 PM · Report this
cosby 21
@16: '(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais' / 'The Prisoner' is the best Clash single in my opinion and is an impressive, explosive, unprecedented combination of roots reggae and punk.
Posted by cosby http://www.myspace.com/cosbyshownights on December 29, 2009 at 1:28 PM · Report this
dan10things 22
Chunklet just made this assertion to stir up some controversy so people would remember they existed again... so it worked.

The Clash, Ramones and Misfits were all way more important bands than 99% of what The Stranger has hyped as the next big thing over the years. I can't believe people are whining about music that came out 30 years ago.
Posted by dan10things http://10thingszine.blogspot.com on December 29, 2009 at 1:29 PM · Report this
douchus 23
WAIT... Just wait a minute...

The Clash were a punk band?!

If that is so, then they are most definitely the most overrated punk band of all time, hands down.

They were as punk as Green Day was/is.
Posted by douchus on December 29, 2009 at 1:30 PM · Report this
Brian Cook 24
@22. so the Stranger should just focus on stuff that's 30 years old? c'mon, it's important to remind ourselves every now and then that "the classics" aren't always as rewarding as history likes to make them out to be.
Posted by Brian Cook http://www.last.fm/user/bubblegutz on December 29, 2009 at 1:39 PM · Report this
alithea 25
aaaand i think that green day was actually a pretty good skate punk band! however, they did like a lot of people did and grew up, thus becoming a fairly decent rock band with punk influences.
Posted by alithea on December 29, 2009 at 1:40 PM · Report this
T 26
My vote definitely goes to the Sex Pistols. I always thought the Ramones were pretty fun early on and I genuinely like The Clash. I've never really cared for Bad Religion though.
Posted by T on December 29, 2009 at 1:41 PM · Report this
Dean Fawkes 27
The collective of bands that've called themselves punk after the '70s.

No one is more overrated.
Posted by Dean Fawkes http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Author?oid=479789&section=Blogs on December 29, 2009 at 1:41 PM · Report this
J. Burns 28
@23, thanks for reminding me. Can I change my vote to the entire class of '94?

And not to harp on this again, because I can understand not throwing them on for kicks, but dismissing the Ramones as "stupid" is missing the point big time.
Posted by J. Burns on December 29, 2009 at 1:41 PM · Report this
T 29
I'm amazed it took 23 posts for the "omg clash arnt punx" post to show up. Next you'll be trying to tell me Fall Out Boy isn't punk rock either.
Posted by T on December 29, 2009 at 1:49 PM · Report this
T 30
I'm amazed it took 23 posts for the "omg clash arnt punx" post to show up. Next you'll be trying to tell me Fall Out Boy isn't punk rock either.
Posted by T on December 29, 2009 at 1:49 PM · Report this
Keekee 31
WoW! I am shocked! There are actual Green day fans on here???????
Posted by Keekee on December 29, 2009 at 2:15 PM · Report this
32
Other people's ratings, editorial or otherwise, are worthless. If the music moves you, it has value.
Posted by finnp on December 29, 2009 at 3:04 PM · Report this
33
Other people's ratings, editorial or otherwise, are worthless. If the music moves you, it has value.
Posted by finnp on December 29, 2009 at 3:05 PM · Report this
34
Bollocks is great, London Calling is great (though they weren't punk anymore by that time in my opinion), The Ramones haven't aged well, but they were punk back in the day and well respected amongst their punky peers. It's punk's job to be anti-establishment so I don't mind when they turn on their own kind when a band gets notoriety. I think Pere Ubu is over-rated, how's that?
Posted by T-Bone on December 29, 2009 at 3:13 PM · Report this
Grant Brissey, Emeritus 35
The Germs
Posted by Grant Brissey, Emeritus http://www.grantropolis.com/ on December 29, 2009 at 3:24 PM · Report this
dan10things 36
"@22. so the Stranger should just focus on stuff that's 30 years old? c'mon, it's important to remind ourselves every now and then that "the classics" aren't always as rewarding as history likes to make them out to be."

I don't know how you got that from what I said, but no. The Stranger should cover whatever it wants to, relevant or not. It's not like it's a go to paper for music coverage these days.
Posted by dan10things http://10thingszine.blogspot.com on December 29, 2009 at 3:24 PM · Report this
37
dead kennedys
Posted by bykep on December 29, 2009 at 4:18 PM · Report this
38
Cosby and Grant are right. The Germs and Social D take the cake
Posted by Esteban on December 29, 2009 at 6:31 PM · Report this
39
overrated UK = clash

overrated US = misfits

underrated UK = homosexuals

underrated US = dicks or weirdos
Posted by fake bands on December 29, 2009 at 7:03 PM · Report this
Estey 40
1.) It is very possible that a band is overrated and I still love them. Thus it is with The Clash. Lots of people I don't necessarily have anything else in common with love them too. That could be said of any of those iconic groups, including The Ramones, the Pistols, etc. We didn't worry a whole lot about them becoming too popular; just the opposite. I will say The Clash were the first band my punk friends openly disregarded and condemned my appreciation for (even if their first LP never went out of rotation).

2.) And they were definitely 1977 UK "punk" -- a perfect combination of May '68 hippies meeting Mott the Hoople working class rock meeting art school ambition in a time of economic depression -- unless you are one of those people Andy Gill makes fun of by saying that punk should be just heavy metal played slow and dumb.

3.) But most overrated + punk band? Yeah, Henry just wants attention.

4.) I like how Aaron Cometbus says in the editorial of his latest issue how he's somehow kept the word "punk" out of his zine till now -- but he was forced to use it by running an interview with John Holstrom.

5.) If I were to be mean to The Clash at all, it would be the reminder that they tried very hard in their interviews to "be punk." (As they say, if someone called themselves a punk back in the day, well, they weren't.) As with Generation X, et al, many otherwise fine bands were at their best when reinventing pop, reggae, ska, or anything else other than "being punk."
Posted by Estey on December 29, 2009 at 8:11 PM · Report this
41
The Sex Pistols have always been overrated. I think the other punk bands even feel this way.

Most overrated paper?.... The Stranger.

I read an issue where the party crasher section was some broad at her friends party and where the drunk of the week was the writer's friend. It's like a bad school paper with a couple random writers worth reading being lost in a bunch of terrible misguided shit. I'm not "supposed" to read it anymore, because my girlfriend got tired of hearing me angrily scream at news print. I remember when I finally saw some Hip-Hop coverage for the first time and was excited that the rag was branching out from sounding like it was written from a back room at the Cha Cha. Then I read a reference to "Do You Want More?" being the first Roots album in the post and couldn't believe any further opinions on the page.

Yeah, but... um.... Sex Pistols = number one overrated punk band. How many songs can you name by the Clash and Ramones? Now try the Sex Pistols... that should answer your question.
Posted by Dead C on December 29, 2009 at 9:35 PM · Report this
42
Why do conversations about talented bands with a "punk" moniker always devolve into discussions about whether or not they were actually "punk" or not? And why do people continue to have the same tired discussions over and over?
Posted by Angry Sam on December 30, 2009 at 12:13 AM · Report this
Paul Pearson 43
@42, I was thinking the exact same thing. I don't know what punk isn't anymore. The need to define it became irrelevant to me after someone used the phrase to define Disturbed. After that point I just felt like, well, anybody who wants to use it, just go the hell ahead. It's one of those phrases that can't be controlled anymore, like "Mission Accomplished," or "not so much".

With that in mind, The Doors were the most overrated punk band.
Posted by Paul Pearson on December 30, 2009 at 1:20 AM · Report this
Brian Cook 44
@36 "The Clash, Ramones and Misfits were all way more important bands than 99% of what The Stranger has hyped as the next big thing over the years."

Maybe i misread your comment, but i thought you were either implying that The Stranger has neglected the local talent that is somehow equivalent in size and scope of influence to The Clash, Ramones, and Misfits, or insinuating that these three bands are more worthy of focus than anything going on right now. my apologies if i misunderstood.

on a side note, punks love to attack cultural institutions, but man, do they get upset when someone confesses to not liking the Clash/Ramones/Misfits/etc....

for the record, i'm changing my vote from the Jersey meatheads in The Misfits to the Monty Python-esque punk parody of The Subhumans.
Posted by Brian Cook http://www.last.fm/user/bubblegutz on December 30, 2009 at 9:28 AM · Report this
dan10things 45
Brian, I meant The Stranger via Pitchfork tends to overhype bands that no one cares about two years later. Maybe people could be criticizing those current bands as overrated, instead of whining about music that's 30 years old.

Punks argue about everything and think nothing is beyond criticism. So fuck yeah, we will both attack cultural institutions and argue over The Clash and Ramones. Do you see the two at odds with each other? Don't take one person's defense of The Clash in an argument as equal to the punk community defending it's institutions, if you pop over the the Northwest Punk Board or Seattle Punk Online you'll find we argue about bands all the time. Shouldn't you rip apart and examine your own subculture as well as mainstream culture?
Posted by dan10things http://10thingszine.blogspot.com on December 30, 2009 at 3:09 PM · Report this
Estey 46
No, Dan, because that would look like you gave a shit about something to playfully engage with other people about it. As opposed to just cracking insults between the lines to people it's easy to mock and being a snob about obviously shit music.
Posted by Estey on December 30, 2009 at 3:58 PM · Report this
47
Green Day: Wuzzy wanna be punk band that suburban mommies and daddies find listenable
Posted by East Coast Realist on December 30, 2009 at 5:07 PM · Report this
Brian Cook 48
@45 "Shouldn't you rip apart and examine your own subculture as well as mainstream culture?"

exactly. so there should be no harm in confessing disliking a classic punk band. it's not "whining." it's just celebrating the fact that everyone has their own opinion, and everyone is guaranteed to dislike at least a few "classic" bands. i mean, i think cosby is crazy for saying Fugazi is overrated, but hey, it's just an opinion.

You do realize that this thread originated from Henry Owings, a guy that's been putting out records, publishing zines, and booking shows in Atlanta (not an easy market by any stretch) for 17 years, right? and you are aware that he recently published a humor book titled "The Overrated Book" that basically poked fun at every band under the sun? this isn't some attempt on The Stranger's part to discredit E Bloom, Richard Hell, Joe Strummer, and John Doe.

sometimes it's refreshing to not take things too seriously.

Posted by Brian Cook http://www.last.fm/user/bubblegutz on December 30, 2009 at 5:37 PM · Report this
49
So, if I get a twitter account and say something bad about a band from 30 years ago, The Stranger will write a couple paragraphs about it and 48 (and counting) douche bags will argue about it in the comments section? Wait, do I need a 'zine first? People still make those?
I really fucking hate U2. There, I said it.

PS If there is a photo of you drinking a PBR your opinion is invalid.
Posted by killmenow on December 30, 2009 at 11:57 PM · Report this
dan10things 50
Henry Owings shtick got old by the tail end of the '90s IMHO. I'm all for humor if it's funny! I never take music criticism seriously, whether someone is trying to be funny or not, but it's fun to argue about. And arguing about bands and music often broadens your musical horizons or makes you go back an revisit bands you haven't listened to in years, that's why music geeks love talking shit about bands.

BTW, put me in the Fugazi being overrated category. Burns' compilation of their stage ranting, while funny, reminded me of the one major bummer of seeing Fugazi live--it always seemed like my dad was on stage giving us a bunch of rules and telling everyone how to have fun. It was political correctness taken way too far to the point that it interrupted the energy, music, performance and fun. I had to laugh when Poison Idea put out that "Fuck Ian Mackaye" record with the banned cover.
Posted by dan10things http://10thingszine.blogspot.com on December 31, 2009 at 12:58 PM · Report this
51
I think it's hard to talk about any of those old punk bands being overrated. Sure, you've heard one Ramones album -- shit, one Ramones song -- and you get amped on it for a few months when you're a teenager, and then that's that, you've heard them all. And it's hard for me to understand what the appeal of listening to their whole catalog for years and years is. But you listen to Hannah Montana or something, and there's these 3 chord riffs that are hard to imagine existing without The Ramones setting the template for that. I think that's true of all the bands in the pantheon of punk -- they may not be something terribly engaging in 2010, but they all built up something incalculably influential in late 20th century western society.
Posted by 311_TruthMovement on December 31, 2009 at 3:31 PM · Report this
52
I think it's hard to talk about any of those old punk bands being overrated. Sure, you've heard one Ramones album -- shit, one Ramones song -- and you get amped on it for a few months when you're a teenager, and then that's that, you've heard them all. And it's hard for me to understand what the appeal of listening to their whole catalog for years and years is. But you listen to Hannah Montana or something, and there's these 3 chord riffs that are hard to imagine existing without The Ramones setting the template for that. I think that's true of all the bands in the pantheon of punk -- they may not be something terribly engaging in 2010, but they all built up something incalculably influential in late 20th century western society.
Posted by 311_TruthMovement on December 31, 2009 at 3:32 PM · Report this
53
I think one of the more interesting turns that punk took this decade was the fascination with bands like The Slits. I have to support this: The Slits were one of the best bands (my personal favorite) that came out of the British punk explosion, and they were overlooked for decades. But now they just released a mediocre-at-best album again, and it's just weird, because it kills some of the mystery for those of us who were born in the 70s, 80s, or later. Silver Apples, Suicide, Dead Kennedys -- all these bands should just let their legacy be their legacy.
Posted by 311_TruthMovement on December 31, 2009 at 3:36 PM · Report this
54
I'm an ENORMOUS Clash fan. I spent my teenage years skanking at a dirty old porn-theater-cum-punk venue in Indianapolis. Punk has been a major feature of my sonic landscape for years. That said, I still think the whole punk rock 'attitude' and 'scene' is complete garbage. "Hey! I hate mainstream society and want to be SOOOO counterculture that me and my friends are all going to dress, talk, eat, drink and smoke in THE EXACT SAME MANNER! And if you don't fit our 'alternative/hip/trendy' lifestyle, we will blackball you/call you a yuppie-sellout-fag/kick your ass!" Fuck all that. Same can be said for Capitol Hill tight pants/awful hair/fixed-gear hiptards. How about just being yourself and not a fucking cookie that's just been cut? Outrageous concept, I know.
Posted by johnnyfootballhero on January 2, 2010 at 3:51 PM · Report this
55
I'm not sure what constitutes "overrated". Does it require commercial success or can a band be overrated and little known? Anyway, Nirvana comes to mind right away.... good albums! I just don't think they're as amazing as everybody says they were.
Posted by Michaelaranda on January 3, 2010 at 1:31 PM · Report this
56
I can't believe some of you people...The Clash is much more than a punk band and they are definitely one of the most influential bands from the 70sand that is a fact! Fugazi on the other hand is overrated, I've never heard a song by them that I liked, yet somehow they have a steady following.
Posted by rocknroller69 on July 25, 2011 at 5:21 PM · Report this
57
To the guy who said, "I'm amazed it took 23 posts for the "omg clash arnt punx" post to show up. Next you'll be trying to tell me Fall Out Boy isn't punk rock either." (post 29 & 30)

You've got to be fucking kidding me.... Fall Out Boy???! FALL OUT BOY!?!??!

*Takes a deep breath and slowly exhales*

Your idiocy wows me. Fall Out Boy has no right to be associated anywhere near the likeness of The Clash, the genre of Punk, and more importantly, music itself. The Clash was punk...yeah, they were signed to Sony, but every fucking influential artist was signed to a major label (back then and before). It's not like it is today where the major labels are spitting out these fabricated, cookie-cutter "artists" who don't write a single word, play a single note, and more often than not, can't sing on key to save their lives (this is where their Lord and Savior Auto-tune comes in). The Clash meant something, and they still do. They stood up for what they believed in...human rights, free speech, the working class. Having said that, I think every band in existence is overrated to a degree...I mean, The Clash is one of my favorite bands...does that mean I love EVERY one of their songs?? No way. Same goes for The Beatles and The Stones... Not every song is as good as the other....doesn't mean it's bad, it's still better than the corporate shit today, but I'd rather listen to a great song than an ehhh song. To try to discredit The Clash for having other genres in their music is so fucking retarded that it's laughable....it's not three power chords and yelling, but it's punk to the max.....and should we really spending our time talking about which great bands from 30 years ago are overrated, when every single popular "artist" in existence today is so overrated that it shouldn't even be called music? .....yeah, so maybe The Clash, along with The Beatles, Ramones, Stones, Sex Pistols (okay they're given too much credit, I'll admit), were "overrated" but they fucking rock.
More...
Posted by jules1117 on February 9, 2013 at 7:04 PM · Report this
Fnarf 58
The Clash were mostly boring, mostly because they were extremely stupid. And the reggae thing was just completely horrible, nice try but really badly done (their reggae covers are rhythmless butchery). The real heroes of the first wave of punk were The Buzzcocks, but there were dozens of smaller bands who are more interesting than the plodding corporate rock of Bernie Rhodes's charges. There's a couple of good songs there, but the same could be said of The Adverts or Generation X. The Pistols were imprisoned in sludge rock, but they were smarter and had good instincts, or rather Rotten did. PiL blow away everything else from that era. But the real London punk band with staying power? The Television Personalities.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on February 10, 2013 at 6:04 PM · Report this

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