The Clash (album)

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The Clash
Standard UK edition
Studio album by The Clash
Released 8 April 1977
Recorded 10–27 February 1977 at CBS Studios in London and National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, England
Genre Punk rock
Length 35:18
Label CBS
Producer Mickey Foote
The Clash chronology
The Clash
(1977)
Give 'Em Enough Rope
(1978)
Singles from The Clash
  1. "White Riot"
    Released: 18 March 1977
  2. "Remote Control"
    Released: 13 May 1977

The Clash is the eponymous debut studio album by English punk rock band The Clash. It was released on 8 April 1977, through CBS Records.

Background[edit]

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 Jones' grandmother, who frequently went to see their live concerts.[1] 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 £4000 to produce.

Album cover[edit]

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".

Songs[edit]

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, entitled "I'm So Bored with You",[2] condemns the Americanization of the UK.[3] "White Riot" was The Clash's debut single. The song is short and intense, punk style of two chords played very fast (5 chords in total song). Lyrically, the song is about class economics and race.[4]

Sample of single and US album version of "White Riot"

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"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. 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 here was not recorded for the album. Instead, they used the original demo version, recorded at Beaconsfield Studios before the band signed to CBS.

"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 Bob Marley'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".[5][6][7] It was the final track recorded for the album.

Release[edit]

Released in the United Kingdom through CBS Records in 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.[8] The Clash was unusually musically varied for a punk band, with reggae and early rock and roll influences plainly evident.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[9]
Alternative Press 5/5 stars[10]
Blender 5/5 stars[11]
Robert Christgau A (US version)[12]
Q 5/5 stars[13]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[14]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[15]

The album received critical acclaim and peaked at number 12 in the UK charts.[16] In his 1979 consumer guide for The Village Voice, critic Robert Christgau gave the album's US import an A rating 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".[12] In his decade-end list for The Village Voice, he ranked the UK version as the best album of the 1970s.[17]

In February 1993, the New Musical Express magazine ranked the album number 13 in its list of the Greatest Albums of All Time.[18] 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".[13] The same magazine placed The Clash at number forty-eight in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever in 2000,[19] and included The Clash in its "100 Best Punk Albums", giving it 5 stars out of 5, in May 2002.[20]

In 2000, Alternative Press rated the album 5 out of 5. Alternative press review 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.[10]

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".[21]

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."[22][23]

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".[24]

Noted Jamaican producer Lee Perry heard the album while in London in 1977, and played it to Bob Marley,[citation needed] who in turn mentioned The Clash on his own track "Punky Reggae Party".

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, except where noted. 

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Janie Jones"   Strummer 2:03
2. "Remote Control"   Jones, Strummer 3:00
3. "I'm So Bored with the USA"   Strummer 2:25
4. "White Riot"   Strummer 1:56
5. "Hate & War"   Jones, Strummer 2:05
6. "What's My Name?" (written by Strummer, Jones, Keith Levene) Strummer 1:40
7. "Deny"   Strummer 3:03
8. "London's Burning"   Strummer 2:12
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Career Opportunities"   Strummer 1:52
2. "Cheat"   Strummer 2:06
3. "Protex Blue"   Jones 1:42
4. "Police & Thieves" (written by Junior Murvin, Lee Perry) Strummer 6:01
5. "48 Hours"   Strummer 1:34
6. "Garageland"   Strummer 3:12

1979 US version[edit]

All songs written and composed by Strummer and Jones, except where noted. 

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
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
4. "Complete Control"   Strummer 3:14
5. "White Riot"   Strummer 1:59
6. "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais"   Strummer 3:59
7. "London's Burning"   Strummer 2:12
8. "I Fought the Law" (written by Sonny Curtis) Strummer 2:41
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Janie Jones"   Strummer 2:03
2. "Career Opportunities"   Strummer 1:52
3. "What's My Name?" (written by Strummer, Jones, Levene) Strummer 1:40
4. "Hate & War"   Jones, Strummer 2:05
5. "Police & Thieves" (written by Murvin, Perry) Strummer 6:01
6. "Jail Guitar Doors"   Jones 3:05
7. "Garageland"   Strummer 3:12

1979 US version[edit]

The Clash (US version)
Studio album by The Clash
Released 26 July 1979 (1979-07-26)
Recorded 1976–1979
Genre Punk rock
Length 43:20
Label Epic
Producer Mickey Foote, Lee Perry, The Clash, Sandy Pearlman, Bill Price
The Clash US chronology
Give 'Em Enough Rope
(1978)
The Clash
(1979)
London Calling
(1979)
Singles from The Clash
  1. "Complete Control"
    Released: 23 September 1977 (1977-09-23)
  2. "Clash City Rockers"
    Released: 17 February 1978 (1978-02-17)
  3. "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais"
    Released: 17 June 1978 (1978-06-17)
  4. "I Fought the Law"
    Released: 26 July 1979 (1979-07-26)

In the United States, The Clash's debut studio album was released one year after Give 'Em Enough Rope, so it was 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, shifting over 100,000 copies.[25]

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 UK version were the following tracks:

  • "Deny"
  • "Cheat"
  • "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".[26] 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,[27] 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" 45". 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.

Personnel[edit]

The stairway, where The Clash posed for the cover photo, in 2008.

The Clash[edit]

Production[edit]

  • Mickey Foote − production, engineering on US version
  • Simon Humphrey − engineering
  • Kate Simon − cover art
  • Rocco Macauly − back cover photo
  • Lee "Scratch" Perry – production on US version
  • Sandy Pearlman – production on US version
  • Bill Price – production on US version

Chart positions[edit]

Year Chart Position
1977 Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[28] 42
UK Albums (OCC)[16] 12
1979 US Billboard 200[27] 126

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
United Kingdom (BPI)[29] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[30] Gold 500,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[31] Silver 60,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[32] Silver 60,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Uncut Crap – Over 56 Things You Never Knew About The Clash". NME (London: IPC Magazines) 3. 16 March 1991. ISSN 0028-6362. OCLC 4213418. 
  2. ^ Caws, Matthew (December 1995). "Mick Jones". Guitar World (New York: Harris Publications) 12. ISSN 1045-6295. OCLC 7982091. 
  3. ^ Interviewer: Unknown; Presenter: Kurt Loder. "MTV Rockumentary". MTV.
  4. ^ Letts (2001). The Clash: Westway to the World. Event occurs at 25:45–27:40.
  5. ^ Murray, Charles Shaar (5 April 2003). "Joe is dead, but the Clash are immortal". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 7 May 2010. I described them as the kind of garage band who should be speedily returned to their garage, preferably with the engine running 
  6. ^ Letts (2001). The Clash: Westway to the World. Event occurs at 25:00–25:35.
  7. ^ Needs, Kris (November 2004). "HOW I MET THE CLASH". trakMARX.com. Retrieved 21 November 2007. 
  8. ^ The Clash. Mojo, Mojo Classic issue. p. 33.
  9. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. The Clash (album) at AllMusic. Retrieved 18 August 2004.
  10. ^ a b Alternative Press (March 2000), pp. 74–75.
  11. ^ "Back Catalogue: The Clash (US Version)". Blender (New York). February 2000. 
  12. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (3 September 1979). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved 17 April 2012. 
  13. ^ a b Q (December 1999), pp. 152–153.
  14. ^ "Review: The Clash". Rolling Stone (New York): 87. 20 June 2002. 
  15. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). "The Clash". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. London: Fireside. pp. 167–168. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved 24 September 2011.  Portions posted at "The Clash > Album Guide". rollingstone.com. Retrieved 27 February 2011. 
  16. ^ a b April 1977 "30 April 1977 Top 40 UK Albums Archive". Official Charts Company.
  17. ^ Christgau, Robert (17 December 1979). "Decade Personal Best: '70s". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  18. ^ NME (2 February 1993), p. 29
  19. ^ Q (June 2000), p. 70.
  20. ^ Q (May 2002). SE, p. 135.
  21. ^ Spin (May 2001), p. 108.
  22. ^ Rolling Stone (937). 11 December 2003. p. 114. 
  23. ^ Levy, Joe; Steven Van Zandt (2006) [2005]. "77 | The Clash – The Clash". Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (3rd ed.). London: Turnaround. ISBN 1-932958-61-4. OCLC 70672814. Archived from the original on 14 December 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2007. 
  24. ^ Mojo (March 2003), p. 76.
  25. ^ Letts (2001). The Clash: Westway to the World. Event occurs at 34:00–36:00.
  26. ^ Letts (2001). The Clash: Westway to the World. Event occurs at 44:40–45:00.
  27. ^ a b "The Clash - The Clash – Awards". AllMusic. Billboard. 
  28. ^ "The Clash – The Clash". Swedishcharts.com. Hung Medien.
  29. ^ "British album certifications – The Clash – The Clash". British Phonographic Industry. 31 December 1979.  Enter The Clash in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  30. ^ "American album certifications – The Clash – The Clash". Recording Industry Association of America. 12 November 1991.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  31. ^ "British album certifications – The Clash – The Clash (US Version)". British Phonographic Industry. 9 August 2013.  Enter The Clash (US Version) in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
  32. ^ "British album certifications – The Clash – The Clash (UK Version)". British Phonographic Industry. 22 December 2013.  Enter The Clash (UK Version) in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]