When I was around 14, young, impressionable, and determined to launch myself into the echelons of the “cool kids” at school, I turned to my friend Aimee for some advice on what music was good. She reeled off a few of the most influential punk bands of the 70s… “Dunno… How about Ramones? Sex Pistols? Dead Kennedys? The Clash?” The Clash. Every one of the bands she named stuck with me, and I developed a strange, different relationship with each of them. None of them quite so obvious and profound than my favourite band of all time: The Clash.
From the ‘funky boogaloo’ sounds of tracks like The Magnificent Seven (see below for my thoughts on that one) to the raw, edgy, quintessentially ‘punky’ ones like Janie Jones and Career Opportunities, The Clash play a wide range of catchy, political music which I come back to every few years and relive all over again.
The Clash bring me back to an era I never lived. The 1970s were a time of great political unrest in the UK and I am sad that I’ll never get to experience it. The looks, the music, the attitude. That’s what I think of when I think about those times. When I was 14 and I put London Calling into my CD player for the first time, its ‘fuck the establishment’ messages reinforced my already stubborn attitude towards people in authority. It seems cheesy to think back on this now, but at the time The Clash pushed me down a path that truly made me feel apart from the crowd. It’s a shame I will never get to see them live (the group disbanded in 1986). I would have liked to have been at one of their shows so I could see them in action.
I have for years now said that my favourite song of all time is White Man in Hammersmith Palais, but rather than try to pick my top five songs by them (a process that would probably take me weeks to narrow down), I decided to list my top five listened to songs according to my Last.fm. Here they are:
- Spanish Bombs – London Calling
- Rock the Casbah – Combat Rock
- Rudie Can’t Fail – London Calling
- The Magnificent Seven – Sandinista!
- Should I Stay or Should I Go – Combat Rock
These songs give a good idea of what I like about The Clash, and also give a good introduction to the band if you somehow haven’t heard them before.
These albums are also my top-played on Last.fm.
London Calling. The definitive Clash album. Most people would have heard their music from one. It’s the perfect jumping-off point to get into their music and was the first one I bought myself. When I first heard it, I remember thinking that I had never heard anything like it. The two voices of Mick Jones and Joe Strummer form a perfect sound. The blung blung blung of the bass guitar. These were the things that jumped out, grabbed me, and sucked me in.
Sandinista! This is definitely the weirdest of The Clash albums, containing songs like Lightning Strikes (Not Once but Twice), Up in Heaven (Not Only Here), and Lose this Skin – a song I am determined to use in a montage at some point. Many of the songs don’t sound anything like The Clash and, in a way, that’s what I like about it.
Combat Rock. This one is just fun really. Know Your Rights… Overpowered by Funk… Combat Rock is The Clash album most likely to make you jump around the room. It’s no coincidence that this album also contains some of The Clash’s most popular songs such as Should I Stay or Should I Go and Rock the Casbah.
A special mention should also be given to Supermarket Black Clash; a lesser known Clash recording full of original songs which have stuck around in my head for years.
I’m off to Pokhara on Saturday so will be blogging about that for the next week or so. Watch this space.