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Profiles :: The Clash
Along with the Sex Pistols, The Clash epitomised the first wave of the London punk scene.
However, unlike the Pistols they represented the links between the old and the new.
Their lead singer Joe Strummer, had actually begun his musical career in a number of London pub rock acts, most notably the 101ers, whose "Keys To Your Heart" predicted the punk sound by at least a year. Other members; Mick Jones, Topper Headon and Paul Simenon, served their apprenticeship with the notorious London SS (along with other punk pioneers like Tony James). Originally the Clash's line-up also included future PiL member Keith Levene, but he left before their signing to CBS.
Initially coming to prominence on the Sex Pistols 'Anarchy' package tour, their debut album was a more varied affair than their contemporaries. It contained the raw blasts of songs such as "White Riot" but also a reggae cover ("Police And Thieves") and also reflected a more political stance, concerning itself with the inner city experience. Another thing which marked the band apart from the Punk crowd was their coherence as a unit. Live shows were blistering displays of rock 'n' roll swagger, and by 1979 they had not only won over the USA audiences, but had also produced a masterpiece in the shape of double album London Calling.
Filled with everything from rockabilly to dub, it showed that the band had progressed way beyond the 3-chord thrash, to become genuinely eclectic. This eclecticism nearly proved to be their downfall as they then gave the world a rambling 3-album set, Sandinista! However, by 1982 producer Glyn Johns brought them back on track for their last great album Combat Rock. Featuring the hit "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" and "Rock The Casbah" it saw the band reach global status but also begin to fall apart. Heddon succumbed to heroin addiction as Jones left to form the more forward-looking Big Audio Dynamite with band friend Don Letts and it was left to Strummer to steer the band to a rather ignominious end in 1986. However, to this day their political fearlessness and belief in the power of rock to change lives remains inspirational.
The Clash (1977)
Give 'Em Enough Rope (1978)
London Calling (1979)
Combat Rock (1982)
Cut The Crap (1985)
:: theclashonline.com - official Sony site
:: Wikipedia - The Clash profile
:: Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - official site
:: carbonsiliconinc.com - Mick Jones' band official site
:: /bbcthree - Clash documentary
:: /music - London Calling 25th Anniversary Edition review
:: /radio2 - Critical List: London Calling review
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