The Clash (album)
The Clash is the self-titled debut studio album by English punk rock band the Clash. It was released on 8 April 1977 through CBS Records. Written and recorded over three weeks in February 1977 for £4,000, it would go on to reach No. 12 on the UK charts, and has been included on many retrospective rankings as one of the greatest punk albums of all time.
Standard UK edition
|Studio album by|
|Released||8 April 1977|
|Recorded||10–27 February 1977|
|Studio||CBS Studios in London; National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, England|
|The Clash chronology|
|Singles from The Clash|
Songs on the album were composed by guitarists Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, with the notable exception of the reggae cover "Police and Thieves". Several songs from these sessions, including "Janie Jones", "White Riot", and "London's Burning" became classics of the punk genre and were among the first punk songs to see significant presence on singles charts. The album featured Jones and Strummer sharing guitar and vocal duties, with Paul Simonon on bass and Terry Chimes on drums.
The album was not released in the US until 1979, making it their second US release. The US version also included a significantly different track listing, changing the track order and swapping out several songs for non-album tracks recorded in the interim.
Most of the album was conceived on the 18th floor of a council high rise on London's Harrow Road, in a flat that was rented by Mick Jones's grandmother, who frequently went to see their live concerts. The album was recorded over three weekend sessions at CBS Studio 3 in February 1977. By the third of these sessions, the album was recorded and mixed to completion, with the tapes being delivered to CBS at the start of March. It cost £4,000 to produce.
The cover artwork was designed by Polish artist Rosław Szaybo. The album's front cover photo, shot by Kate Simon, was taken in the alleyway directly opposite the front door of the band's 'Rehearsal Rehearsals' building in Camden Market. Drummer Terry Chimes, though a full member of the Clash at the time, did not appear in the picture as he had already decided to leave the group. Another picture from the same Kate Simon photoshoot appears on the UK Special Edition DVD of Rude Boy, released in 2003. The picture of the charging police officers on the rear, shot by Rocco Macauly, was taken during the 1976 riot at the Notting Hill Carnival—the inspiration for the track "White Riot".
The subject of the opening track, "Janie Jones", was a famous brothel keeper in London during the 1970s. "Remote Control" was written by Mick Jones after the Anarchy Tour and contains pointed observations about the civic hall bureaucrats who had cancelled concerts, the police, big business and especially record companies. CBS decided to release the song as a single without consulting the band. "I'm So Bored with the USA", developed from a Mick Jones song titled "I'm So Bored with You", condemns the Americanization of the UK. "White Riot" was the Clash's debut single. The song is short and intense, in a punk style of two chords played very fast (five chords are used in the whole song). Lyrically, it is about class economics and race.
"Career Opportunities", the opening track of the second side of the album, attacks the political and economic situation in England at the time, citing the lack of jobs available, and the dreariness and lack of appeal of those that were available.
"Protex Blue", sung by Mick Jones, is about a 1970s brand of condom. It was inspired by the contraceptive vending machine in the Windsor Castle's toilets. The song ends with the shouted phrase "Johnny Johnny!", johnny being a British slang term for a condom.
The version of "White Riot" featured on the album was not recorded for the album; the original demo (recorded at Beaconsfield Studios before the band signed to CBS) was used instead.
"Police & Thieves" was added to the album when the group realised that the track listing was too short. Another cover the band played at these sessions was The Wailer's "Dancing Shoes". "Garageland" was written in response to Charles Shaar Murray's damning review of the Clash's early appearance at the Sex Pistols Screen on the Green concert – "The Clash are the kind of garage band who should be returned to the garage immediately, preferably with the engine running". It was the final track recorded for the album.
It was released in the United Kingdom through CBS Records on 8 April 1977, engineered by CBS staff engineer Simon Humphrey and produced by Clash live soundman Mickey Foote, at the (since demolished) CBS Whitfield Street Studio No. 3. The Clash was unusually musically varied for a punk band, with reggae and early rock and roll influences plainly evident.
|The Baltimore Sun|||
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|Spin Alternative Record Guide||10/10|
The album received critical acclaim and peaked at number 12 in the UK charts. In his 1979 consumer guide for The Village Voice, critic Robert Christgau gave the album's US release an "A" grade and stated, "Cut for cut, this may be the greatest rock and roll album (plus limited-edition bonus single) ever manufactured in the U.S. It offers 10 of the 14 titles on the band's British debut as well as 7 of the 13 available only on 45. [...] The U.K. version of The Clash is the greatest rock and roll album ever manufactured anywhere". In his decade-end list for the newspaper, he ranked the UK version as the best album of the 1970s.
In February 1993, the New Musical Express magazine ranked the album number 13 in its list of the Greatest Albums of All Time. NME also ranked The Clash number 3 in its list of the Greatest Albums of the '70s, and wrote in the review that "the speed-freaked brain of punk set to the tinniest, most frantic guitars ever trapped on vinyl. Lives were changed beyond recognition by it".
In December 1999, Q magazine rated the album 5 stars out of 5, and wrote that the Clash "would never sound so punk as they did on 1977's self-titled debut....Lyrically intricate...it still howled with anger". The same magazine placed The Clash at number forty-eight in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever in 2000, and included The Clash in its "100 Best Punk Albums", giving it 5 stars out of 5, in May 2002.
In 2000, Alternative Press rated the album 5 out of 5 and saw The Clash as an eternal punk album, a blueprint for the pantomime of "punkier" rock acts, and that for all of its forced politics and angst, the Clash continues to sound crucial.
In May 2001, Spin magazine ranked the album number 3 in its list of the 50 Most Essential Punk Records, and wrote "Punk as alienated rage, as anticorporate blather, as joyous racial confusion, as evangelic outreach and white knuckles and haywire impulses".
In 2003, the US version was ranked number 77 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time about which was said "youthful ambition bursts through the Clash's debut, a machine-gun blast of songs about unemployment, race, and the Clash themselves." The album was re-ranked at 81 in a 2012 revised list.
In March 2003, Mojo magazine ranked The Clash number 2 in its Top 50 Punk Albums, writing that the album was "the ultimate punk protest album. Searingly evocative of dreary late '70s Britain, but still timelessly inspiring".
The album was included in Robert Dimery's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
All lead vocals by Joe Strummer, except where noted.
All tracks are written by Strummer and Mick Jones, except where noted.
|2.||"Remote Control"||Jones, Strummer||3:00|
|3.||"I'm So Bored with the USA"||2:25|
|5.||"Hate and War"||Jones, Strummer||2:05|
|6.||"What's My Name"||Strummer, Jones, Keith Levene||1:40|
|4.||"Police & Thieves"||Junior Murvin, Lee Perry||6:01|
1979 US versionEdit
|The Clash (US version)|
|Studio album by|
|Released||26 July 1979|
|Producer||Mickey Foote, Lee Perry, The Clash, Sandy Pearlman, Bill Price|
|The Clash US chronology|
|Singles from The Clash|
|Christgau's Record Guide||A|
In the United States, the Clash's debut studio album was released one year after Give 'Em Enough Rope, making it their second release in the US. CBS in America had decided that the album was 'not radio friendly', so it was initially only available in the States during 1977–1978 as an import, and as such became the best-selling import of the year, selling over 100,000 copies.
In July 1979, Epic released a modified version of the album for the United States market. This version replaced four songs from the original version with five non-album singles and B-sides, some of which were recorded and released after the Clash's second studio album, Give 'Em Enough Rope (1978). It also used the re-recorded single version of "White Riot", rather than the original take featured on the UK version.
Omitted from the US version were the following tracks:
- "Protex Blue"
- "48 Hours"
- "White Riot" (original version)
Added were the following tracks:
- "Clash City Rockers" – Initially released as a single (A-side) in the UK in February 1978
- "Complete Control" – Initially released as a single (A-side) in the UK in September 1977
- "White Riot" (re-recorded version) – Initially released as a single (A-side) in the UK in March 1977
- "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais" – Initially released as a single (A-side) in the UK in June 1978
- "I Fought the Law" – Initially released as a track on the Clash EP The Cost of Living in the UK in May 1979
- "Jail Guitar Doors" – Initially released as the B-side to "Clash City Rockers" in the UK in February 1978
Initial copies of the US version also came with a bonus 7-inch single which featured "Groovy Times" and "Gates of the West". The liner notes incorrectly credit new drummer Nicky Headon for "White Riot".
It was another moderately successful album for the Clash in the United States, even though the sales were likely diluted by the longstanding popularity of the UK version on the import market. The Clash peaked at number 126 on the Billboard charts, setting the stage for the commercial breakthrough of London Calling later that year. Since the Clash's first UK album had already been released in Canada by CBS Records, when CBS Canada released the US version, they changed the cover art so as to not confuse the record-buying public. The CBS Canada version of the LP has a dark blue border instead of green. Initial copies also contained the bonus "Groovy Times" 7". Some original pressings of the US version featured "What's My Name?" as track 4 and "Complete Control" as track 11. Though the back of these original pressings list the two songs as they are featured on recent versions of the album.
All tracks are written by Strummer and Jones, except where noted.
|1.||"Clash City Rockers"||Strummer||3:56|
|2.||"I'm So Bored with the USA"||Strummer||2:25|
|3.||"Remote Control"||Jones, Strummer||3:00|
|6.||"(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais"||Strummer||3:59|
|8.||"I Fought the Law"||Sonny Curtis||Strummer||2:41|
|3.||"What's My Name"||Strummer, Jones, Levene||Strummer||1:40|
|4.||"Hate & War"||Jones, Strummer||2:05|
|5.||"Police & Thieves"||Murvin, Perry||Strummer||6:01|
|6.||"Jail Guitar Doors"||Jones||3:05|
- Joe Strummer − lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitar, lead guitar on "48 Hours," production on US version
- Mick Jones − lead guitar, backing and lead vocals, production on US version
- Paul Simonon − bass guitar, production on US version
- Terry Chimes (listed as Tory Crimes) − drums, production on UK version
- Topper Headon − drums on side one tracks 1, 4, 6, and 8 and side two track 6 on US version, production on US version
|1977||Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)||42|
|UK Albums (OCC)||12|
|1979||US Billboard 200||126|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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I described them as the kind of garage band who should be speedily returned to their garage, preferably with the engine running
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