30 Reasons The Clash Were Pretty Darn Good
This week of September 11 and beyond will be temporarily known as Year 1 A.C. -- After Clash. Or so fans, record label folks and other ‘boosters’ of the group would like you to believe. Remember, this was once the group marketed as ‘The Only Band That Matters.’ They were also a band whose first album wasn’t released in the US until two years after its official UK release (with many tracks switched out) for being too raw for US listeners, who -- to be fair -- were busy assimilating the finer points of Yacht Rock at the time.
Thus, in the end, the marketing ‘overreach’ likely turned off as many midwestern listeners, who preferred modesty to hype (unless your name was Led Zeppelin, then by all means take a look at my girlfriend, she’s the only one I got...). Those who stuck by these Super-British Rockers and listened past their abrasive British accents -- why can’t they all be like that charming Rod Stewart lad? -- discovered a band that turned out quite excellent.
Though, technically, the band broke up sometime after the now fully-denied Cut the Crap album, history now teaches us that Combat Rock was their real sayonara and that we were all fans of the group since the import-only days.
Thus, in 2013, Sony Music looking for ANYTHING people might purchase with those ever-shriveling US dollars took comfort in the catalog of --not REO Speedwagon, not Blue Oyster Cult, not Journey! but -- the Clash.
Sound System, designed by bassist Paul Simonon, isn’t just a collection, but a boutique item (Paul’s Boutique?) that currently sells for $177.29 at Amazon and includes all of the group’s albums and a bunch of outtakes and videos. For those willing to settle for the five albums, there’s a 5 Album Studio Set for $39.28. Not quite there? Then there are two different greatest hits collections depending on whether you’re a super-casual fan or just a casual one.
So, of course, I thought I’d set the record further askew by jotting down the 25 (then it became 30!) tracks that to me are far more ‘essential’ than “Rock the Casbah” and even “White Riot,” the debut single that may be iconic, but that’s been played so often that I’ve retired it in favor of a few overlooked tracks.
30) This is Radio Clash: OK, I give you this one. It’s always struck me as kinda funny that bands often have hits with songs that sound little like their albums. The public is like a high-maintenance girlfriend who loves you for you but then insists on changing everything about you.
29) Pressure Drop: The Clash were one of the few bands who made a decent run at reggae, though some folks might point me to side freakin’ six of Sandinista! to argue the point further.