Combat Rock

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For the Doctor Who novel, see Combat Rock (novel). For the song by Sleater-Kinney, see One Beat.
Combat Rock
The Clash - Combat Rock.jpg
Studio album by The Clash
Released 14 May 1982 (1982-05-14)
Recorded 1980; September 1981 at Ear Studios in London; November 1981–January 1982 at Electric Lady Studios in New York City; April 1982 at Wessex Studios in London
Genre Post-punk[1]
Length 46:21
Label CBS, Epic
Producer The Clash, Glyn Johns
The Clash chronology
Combat Rock
Cut the Crap
Singles from Combat Rock
  1. "Know Your Rights"
    Released: 23 April 1982
  2. "Should I Stay or Should I Go"
    Released: 10 June 1982
  3. "Rock the Casbah"
    Released: 11 June 1982
  4. "Straight to Hell"
    Released: 17 September 1982

Combat Rock is the fifth studio album by the English punk rock band the Clash.[2] It was released on 14 May 1982 through CBS Records. In the United Kingdom, the album charted at number 2, spending 23 weeks in the UK charts and peaked at number 7 in the United States, spending 61 weeks on the chart.[which?] Combat Rock is the group's best-selling album, being certified double platinum in the United States. It was the last album featuring Mick Jones and Topper Headon.[3][4] Following along the same note as Sandinista!, Combat Rock's catalogue number "FMLN2" is the abbreviation for the El Salvador political party Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional or FMLN.[5][6][7]

Recording and production[edit]

Combat Rock was originally planned as a double album with the working title Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg, but the idea was scrapped after internal wrangling within the group.[8][9] Mick Jones had mixed the first version, but the other members were dissatisfied and mixing/producing duties were handed to Glyn Johns, at which point the album became a single LP. The original mixes were later bootlegged. Out-takes included a Tymon Dogg song, "Once You Know", the recording featured all the band with Tymon Dogg on vocals and violin.[10][11][12][13]


In January 2000, the album, along with the rest of the Clash's catalogue, was remastered and re-released.[14]

According to author Marcus Gray, the song "Red Angel Dragnet" was inspired by the January 1982 shooting death of Frank Melvin, a New York member of the Guardian Angels.[15][16] The song contains extensive quotes from the 1976 movie Taxi Driver's main character, Travis Bickle, delivered by Kosmo Vinyl. Bickle sports a mohawk in the later part of the film and that hairstyle was adopted by Joe Strummer during the album promotion.[17]

The song, "Ghetto Defendant", features beat poet Allen Ginsberg, who performed the song on stage with the band during the New York shows on their tour in support of the album. At the end of the song he can be heard reciting the Heart Sutra, a popular Buddhist mantra.[5]

Reception and influence[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[18]
Alternative Press 3/5 stars[19]
Blender 4/5 stars[20]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 3/5 stars[21]
MusicHound 3.5/5[21]
Q 3/5 stars[22]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[23]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3.5/5 stars[21]
Spin Alternative Record Guide 8/10[21]
The Village Voice B+[24]

Combat Rock peaked at number 2 on the UK Albums Chart, number 7 on the Billboard Pop albums, and the top ten on many charts in other countries.[25][26][27][28][29] The United States Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified Combat Rock as a Gold album on November 1982, Platinum in January 1983, and Multi-Platinum in June 1995.[30]

In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau lamented the same attempts at funk and dub the Clash had tried on Sandinista! (1980). Nonetheless, he dismissed the notion the band were selling out and believed they were "evolving" on Combat Rock, writing songs at a "higher level of verbal, musical, and political density", albeit in less "terse and clear" fashion than on their early work.[24] Douglas Wolk said in a retrospective review for Blender that while the record was originally seen as the Clash's "sellout move" because of its danceable sound and two hit singles, the other songs featured "audaciously bizarre arrangements and some of Strummer's smartest lyrics."[20] Q magazine was less enthusiastic, deeming it "their biggest seller, but the beginning of the end."[22] In 2000, Alternative Press called it "the penultimate Clash album...employing lessons learned in the previous three years...their most commercially rewarded release...containing [their] most poignant song 'Straight to Hell'."[19] CMJ New Music Report ranked Combat Rock at number five on its 2004 list of the Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1982.[31] Slant Magazine listed the album at No. 80 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s".[32] Kurt Cobain listed it in his top fifty albums of all time.[33][34]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by The Clash, except where noted. 

Side one[10]
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Know Your Rights" (Strummer/Jones) Joe Strummer 3:39
2. "Car Jamming"   Joe Strummer 3:58
3. "Should I Stay or Should I Go"   Mick Jones 3:06
4. "Rock the Casbah"   Joe Strummer 3:44
5. "Red Angel Dragnet"   Paul Simonon/Kosmo Vinyl 3:48
6. "Straight to Hell"   Joe Strummer 5:30
Side two[10]
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Overpowered by Funk"   Joe Strummer/Futura 2000 4:55
2. "Atom Tan"   Mick Jones/Joe Strummer 2:32
3. "Sean Flynn"   Joe Strummer 4:30
4. "Ghetto Defendant"   Joe Strummer/Allen Ginsberg 4:45
5. "Inoculated City" (some copies of the album have an edited version lasting 2:11) Mick Jones 2:43
6. "Death Is a Star"   Joe Strummer/Mick Jones 3:13

Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg track list[edit]

  1. "The Beautiful People Are Ugly Too" – 3:45
  2. "Kill Time" – 4:58
  3. "Should I Stay or Should I Go" – 3:05
  4. "Rock the Casbah" – 3:47
  5. "Know Your Rights" (extended version) – 5:04
  6. "Red Angel Dragnet" – 5:12
  7. "Ghetto Defendant" – 6:17
  8. "Sean Flynn" – 7:30
  9. "Car Jamming" – 3:53
  10. "Inoculated City" – 4:32
  11. "Death Is a Star" – 2:39
  12. "Walk Evil Talk" – 7:37
  13. "Atom Tan" – 2:45
  14. "Overpowered by Funk" (demo) – 1:59
  15. "Inoculated City" (unedited version) – 2:30
  16. "First Night Back in London" – 2:56
  17. "Cool Confusion" – 3:10
  18. "Straight to Hell" (extended version) – 6:56


Additional musicians

Chart positions[edit]

Year Chart Position
1982 Canadian RPM Albums Chart[35] 12
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[36] 29
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[37] 5
Norwegian Albums Chart.[28] 7
Swedish Albums Chart[29] 9
UK Albums Chart[26] 2
1983 US Billboard Pop albums[27] 7


Region Certification Sales/shipments
United Kingdom (BPI)[38] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[39] Gold 500,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[40] Gold 50,000^
United States (RIAA)[39] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone


  • Gray, Marcus (2005) [1995]. The Clash: Return of the Last Gang in Town (5th revised ed.). London: Helter Skelter. ISBN 1-905139-10-1. OCLC 60668626. 


  1. ^ Cateforis, Theo (2013). "". The Rock History Reader. Routledge. p. 314. ISBN 0415892120. Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  2. ^ Colin Larkin (27 May 2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Omnibus Press. pp. 2006–. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8. 
  3. ^ Letts Don; Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon, Terry Chimes, Rick Elgood, The Clash (2001). The Clash, Westway to the World (Documentary). New York, NY: Sony Music Entertainment; Dorismo; Uptown Films. Event occurs at 71:00–75:00. ISBN 0-7389-0082-6. OCLC 49798077. 
  4. ^ Cromelin, Richard (31 January 1988). "Strummer on Man, God, Law and the Clash". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Antonino D'Ambrosio (2012). Let Fury Have the Hour: Joe Strummer, Punk, and the Movement That Shook the Word. Nation Books. pp. 183–. ISBN 978-1-56858-720-2. 
  6. ^ Patricia Romanowski Bashe; Patricia Romanowski; Holly George-Warren; Jon Pareles (1995). The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. Fireside. ISBN 978-0-684-81044-7. 
  7. ^ Books LLC (May 2010). The Clash Albums: London Calling, Sandinista!, the Clash, Combat Rock, Give 'em Enough Rope, Super Black Market Clash, Singles Box. General Books LLC. ISBN 978-1-155-28536-8. 
  8. ^ Daniel Rachel (12 September 2013). Isle of Noises: Conversations with great British songwriters. Pan Macmillan. pp. 177–. ISBN 978-1-4472-2680-2. 
  9. ^ Daniel Rachel (7 October 2014). The Art of Noise: Conversations with Great Songwriters. St. Martin's Press. pp. 145–. ISBN 978-1-4668-6521-1. 
  10. ^ a b c Chris Knowles (1 December 2003). Clash City Showdown. PageFree Publishing, Inc. pp. 108–. ISBN 978-1-58961-138-2.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Knowles2003" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  11. ^ Alan Parker (2003). The Clash: "rat Patrol from Fort Bragg". Abstract Sounds. ISBN 978-0-9535724-9-6. 
  12. ^ Nick Johnstone (7 April 2010). The Clash: 'Talking'. Omnibus Press. pp. 13–. ISBN 978-0-85712-258-2. 
  13. ^ Sean Egan (6 November 2014). The Clash: The Only Band That Mattered. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 198–. ISBN 978-0-8108-8876-0. 
  14. ^ Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies. University of Iowa. 2002. 
  15. ^ Gray (2005) p. 380
  16. ^ Monday, 18 January 1982 (1982-01-18). "Time Magazine article 18 January 1982 ''Guardian Angels' Growing Pains''". Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  17. ^ NORDBERG, TIM. "Rock History 101: The Clash’s "Red Angel Dragnet"". COS. COS. Retrieved 12 August 2015. 
  18. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Combat Rock The Clash". Allmusic. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  19. ^ a b "10 Essential '80s Albums". Alternative Press: 112. August 2001. 
  20. ^ a b Wolk, Douglas (n.d.). "Combat Rock". Blender. Archived from the original on 10 September 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  21. ^ a b c d "Combat Rock". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  22. ^ a b "100 Greatest British Albums". Q magazine: 152–153. December 1999. 
  23. ^ Fricke, David (25 January 2000). "Combat Rock by The Clash". Music Reviews. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  24. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (10 August 1982). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  25. ^ a b Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (21 August 1982). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 29–. ISSN 0006-2510.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Inc.1982" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  26. ^ a b "UK Chart Archive". Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  27. ^ a b "The Clash > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  28. ^ a b "Discography The Clash". Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  29. ^ a b "Discography The Clash". Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  30. ^ "Gold and Platinum: Searchable Database". RIAA. Retrieved 2008-10-26. 
  31. ^ "Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1982". CMJ New Music Report: 10. 5 January 2004. 
  32. ^ "Best Albums of the 1980s | Music". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  33. ^ "Top 50 by Nirvana [MIXTAPE]". Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  34. ^ Cross, Gaar, Gendron, Martens, Yarm (2013). Nirvana: The Complete Illustrated History. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-7603-4521-4. 
  35. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 36, No. 23, July 17, 1982". RPM. Retrieved 2012-02-17. 
  36. ^ " – The Clash – Combat Rock" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  37. ^ " – The Clash – Combat Rock". Hung Medien.
  38. ^ "British album certifications – The Clash – Combat Rock". British Phonographic Industry. 1982-07-27.  Enter Combat Rock 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
  39. ^ a b "American album certifications – The Clash – Combat Rock". Recording Industry Association of America. 1982-11-08.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "United_StatesThe_ClashCombat_RockalbumCertRef" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  40. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Clash – Combat Rock". Music Canada. 1982-12-01. 

Further reading[edit]