Bankrobber

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For the crime, see Bank robbery.
"Bankrobber"
Single by The Clash
from the album Black Market Clash
B-side "Rockers Galore... UK Tour"
Released 8 August 1980
Format 7" single
Recorded 1980
Genre Reggae rock
Length 4:33
Label CBS 8323
Writer(s) Joe Strummer and Mick Jones
Producer(s) Mikey Dread
The Clash singles chronology
"Train in Vain"
(1980)
"Bankrobber"
(1980)
"The Call Up"
(1980)

"Bankrobber" is a song by The Clash. The song was not released on any of their studio albums, instead appearing on their compilation Black Market Clash. Upon its 1980 release as a single (initially available in the UK on import only) it peaked at number 12 on the UK Singles Chart,[1] and at number 14 on both the Irish Singles Chart and the New Zealand Singles Chart.[2][3]

Young Ian Brown and Pete Garner — later of The Stone Roses — were in attendance at the studio recording session of this single. The full account of this incident is in John Robb's Stone Roses and the Resurrection of British Pop.[4]

The Clash filmed a low-budget video for the song, depicting members of the band recording the song in the studio, interspersed with Clash roadies Baker and Johnny Green wearing bandanas over their faces, performing a bank heist in Lewisham. During the filming, Baker and Green were stopped and questioned by the police, who thought they were genuine.[5][n 1]

Track listing[edit]

Side one[edit]

  1. "Bankrobber"

Side two[edit]

  1. "Rockers Galore... UK Tour" (Mikey Dread)

Personnel[edit]

Robber Dub[edit]

"Robber Dub" is the dub version of "Bankrobber". It was to be included in the 12" single for "Bankrobber", but the label ended up refusing to release the 12" single.[6][n 2] The song can be found on their 1980 compilation album Black Market Clash, combined with "Bankrobber" as a 6:16 track, and on the 1994 compilation album Super Black Market Clash, as a 4:42 stand alone track.

Rockers Galore... UK Tour[edit]

"Rockers Galore... UK Tour" is a reworking of "Bankrobber" with Mikey Dread singing new lyrics about touring with the Clash. It is not "Robber Dub" which lacks the Dread vocal and lyrics.[7][n 3] "Rockers Galore" is also featured on their 2006 compilation album Singles Box.

Appearances[edit]

"Bankrobber" features in the episode "Freddie" of E4's Skins, in the programme's third season.

Also, "Bankrobber" is featured in Guy Ritchie's 2008 film, Rocknrolla. It is sung alternately by the older 'Johnny Quid', portrayed by British actor Toby Kebbell, in his dingy flat, and by the younger 'John Cole' in the company of his cruel stepfather, the London mob boss Lenny Cole.

In the first episode of North Square the barristers start singing the song in the robing room after a hearing. The opening words ("My daddy was a bankrobber but he never hurt nobody") are recited as if part of the dialogue. In a subsequent episode of the same series one of the barristers faces a disciplinary hearing as a result of punching someone at the time of the robing room scene in the first episode. There is cctv footage of the incident but no sound recording. In order to explain the context of the blow (a racist comment made by the victim) the barrister calls a lip reader, who has been profoundly deaf from birth, to explain to the tribunal what everyone was saying at the time. In his evidence the witness is also asked to lip read one of the characters singing "Bankrobber" which he does, obviously unaware that these are the words of a song.

Cover versions[edit]

The Norwegian hardcore band So Much Hate released a live version of the song on the It's Your Choice, a 2x10" live compilation released in 1991 through Your Choice Records. It was also covered by Hot Tuna, with Jorma Kaukonen on lead guitar, vocals, dobro and table steel guitar, Jack Casady on bass, and Michael Falzarano on rhythm guitar, vocals, mandolin and harmonica, on their live album, Live at Sweetwater, recorded in January 1992 at Sweetwater Station in Mill Valley, California and released through Relix Records that same year. Audioweb recorded a rock/reggae cover in 1996 that reached number 19 in the UK Singles Chart.[8][9]

The Pistoleers covered the song in 2002 for This Is Rockabilly Clash. Hawksley Workman recorded a version, which was available on a free CD in the UK magazine UNCUT in 2003. The CD was titled White Riot Vol. 1: A Tribute to The Clash. Greg MacPherson covered it on his 2004 album Maintenance. Chumbawamba's 2005 album, A Singsong and a Scrap featured an a cappella cover version of the song. OPM recorded a cover for the In the OPMDEN EP released in 2006. The song was covered by the Polish group Kult in 2008. John Brown's Body covered it for the 2009 album Shatter the Hotel: A Dub Inspired Tribute to Joe Strummer. Australian singer Dave Favours covered the song on his 2012 EP One Hand on the Wheel.

Charts[edit]

Artist Year Chart Peak
position
The Clash 1980-09-061980 UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[1] 12
1980-09-141980 Ireland (IRMA)[2] 14
1980-10-051980 New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[3] 14
Audioweb 1997-02-151997 UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[9] 19

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ During the filming for the "Bankrobber" video, Clash roadies Baker and Johnny Green faked a bank job in South London. They were stopped and questioned by the police, who thought they were the real thing.[5]
  2. ^ "Robber Dub" is a 'Dread at The Controls' version of The Clash's excellent reggae song "Bankrobber". It was to be included on a 12" single titled "Bankrobber", but the label ended up refusing to release the single. It is a great song, but doesn't quite match "Justice Tonight/Kick It Over".[6]
  3. ^ "Rockers Galore...UK Tour" is a reworking of "Bankrobber" with Mikey Dread singing new lyrics about touring with the Clash. This is not the same track as "Robber Dub" on SUPER BLACK MARKET CLASH, which lacks the Dread vocal and lyrics.[7]

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]