Cut the Crap
|Cut the Crap|
|Studio album by The Clash|
|Released||4 November 1985|
|Recorded||January–March 1985, Weryton Studios, Unterföhring|
|Producer||Bernie Rhodes (credited as "Jose Unidos")|
|The Clash chronology|
|Singles from Cut the Crap|
Background and recording
Following a break after the Clash's performance at the 1983 US Festival, the band reconvened that June for rehearsals in London, England. About a week into rehearsals, tensions present within the group throughout the year re-emerged, reportedly due to a musical difference of opinion brought about by guitarist Mick Jones's use of a synthesizer he had recently acquired. Another point of contention was Jones's frequent tardiness and absences. By that point, Jones and his songwriting partner Joe Strummer had difficulty communicating with one another; drummer Pete Howard said, "It got to the point where Joe was posting lyrics through Mick's door. He thought the music that Mick was putting to them was a pile of shit". At the same time, Jones refused to sign a new contract presented by manager Bernie Rhodes without consulting a solicitor; one Clash associate commented that Rhodes was angered by Jones's position, and "twisted Joe up about it", asking Strummer if he really wanted to be in the band with the guitarist. The rehearsals eventually ceased.
In August 1983, the Clash arranged to reconvene to discuss plans for their follow-up to Combat Rock. Speaking of the tension by that point between Strummer and himself, Jones said, "By then, our relationship was . . . bad. We weren't really communicating. The group was dissipating". Not long into the new set of rehearsals, some time in late August or early September, Strummer and bassist Paul Simonon fired Jones from the Clash. A week prior to the official statement of Jones' ejection, Strummer, Simonon, and Rhodes met Howard in a pub, where Strummer aggressively told the drummer, "I've just fucking sacked Mick Jones, he's a fucking cunt. You have to make a decision: are you with us or him?" Howard elected to stay with the group, and in October the band began posting anonymous advertisements in Melody Maker seeking a new guitarist. After auditions (during which the identity of the band remained a secret), the Clash selected two guitarists, Nick Sheppard and Greg White, with the latter taking the name Vince White due to Simonon's refusal to play in a band with someone named "Greg".
The intention behind the new Clash line-up was to take the music back to basics. With Strummer playing little guitar in the new line-up and Sheppard taking over rhythm guitarist duties, the band practised early Clash songs and new three and four-chord songs, and eschewed reggae. The band then booked a brief tour of the American West Coast, which prompted Mick Jones to inform concert promoter Bill Graham that he was planning to tour the country with former Clash drummer Topper Headon as "The Real Clash". Jones's lawyer had earnings frozen from the US Festival as well as the band's previous album Combat Rock, which resulted in Strummer writing the song "We Are the Clash". The tour set out in January 1984, lasting until the end of the month. The shows featured the première of new songs "We Are the Clash", "Three Card Trick", "Sex Mad Roar" and "This Is England".
Biographer Chris Salewicz noted that the "fundamental flaw" in firing Mick Jones from the Clash was that he wrote virtually all the music. Clash associate Kosmo Vinyl commented, "We didn't think [. . .] 'Anyone can write a punk song!' That was our mistake." Unknown to the band at the time, Bernie Rhodes' solution to the problem was to take control of the music writing himself.
"This Is England", much like the rest of the album that came out later that year, had been drastically re-engineered by Rhodes, with synths and football-style chants added to Strummer's incomplete recordings. Although Howard was an adept drummer, drum machines were used for virtually all the percussion tracks. For the remainder of his life, Strummer largely disowned the album, although he did profess that "I really like 'This Is England' [and album track] 'North and South' is a vibe." Other songs played on the tour remain unreleased to this day, including "Jericho", "(In the) Pouring Rain" and "Glue Zombie".
According to guitarist Vince White, the original title of Cut the Crap was Out of Control. Bernie Rhodes changed the title to Cut the Crap shortly before the album's release without consulting the band. Rhodes also produced the record, using the alias of "Jose Unidos".
In mid-2000, Cut the Crap was remastered and re-released in Europe with a bonus track "Do It Now". The reissue was unannounced and not promoted. It came after the rest of the band's catalogue had been reissued in December 1999-January 2000 in the US. Cut the Crap was not mentioned in the Clash documentary The Clash: Westway to the World (2000) and was acknowledged only briefly in the official 2008 book The Clash, pointedly not receiving an overview as the first five albums did. Furthermore, the career-spanning box sets Sound System and 5 Album Studio Set, both released in 2013, do not include Cut the Crap, and nor do 1991 releases Clash on Broadway and The Singles.
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|The Village Voice||B+|
Critical and commercial reception to the record was generally poor. The absence of Jones and former drummer Topper Headon (who had been kicked out earlier due to his ongoing heroin addiction) led many to regard Cut the Crap as a Joe Strummer solo album, despite the fact that Paul Simonon appeared on it as well. Reasons for the album's shortcomings included Joe Strummer's disillusionment with the group by this point, as well as his grieving over the deaths of his parents.
In a negative review for Rolling Stone, David Fricke said "too much of Cut the Crap is Strummer's angst running on automatic, superficially ferocious but ultimately stiff and unconvincing." Richard Cromelin from the Los Angeles Times felt the uptempo rockers sounded less effective than previous Clash records in light of the tamer political climate at the time and the absence of Jones, although he concluded that Strummer's singing was still compelling and the ballads "This Is England" and "North and South" made the album "more than passable". In a more positive review for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau said in spite of the synthesized horns on "Dictator", most of the songs eventually take effect, some persistent, exuberant, melancholic, and even keeled, particularly "We Are the Clash".
"This Is England", was released to mostly negative reviews. "CBS had paid an advance for it so they had to put it out", Strummer later explained. "I just went, 'Well fuck this', and fucked off to the mountains of Spain to sit sobbing under a palm tree, while Bernie had to deliver a record." However, critic Dave Marsh later championed "This Is England" as one of the top 1001 rock singles of all time. Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic complimented the song as "surprisingly heavy" on a record that was otherwise "formulaic, tired punk rock that doesn't have the aggression or purpose of early Clash records".
"Are You Red..Y"/"Three Card Trick" was released as the second single only in Australia (Epic ES-1113), and failed to chart.
|3.||"We Are the Clash"||3:02|
|4.||"Are You Red..Y"||3:01|
|5.||"Cool Under Heat"||3:21|
|6.||"Movers and Shakers"||3:01|
|7.||"This Is England"||3:49|
|8.||"Three Card Trick"||3:09|
|9.||"Play to Win"||3:06|
|11.||"North and South"||3:32|
|12.||"Life Is Wild"||2:39|
|CD bonus track|
|13.||"Do It Now"||3:09|
The following people contributed to Cut the Crap (Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon were the only original Clash members that actually appeared on the album):
- Joe Strummer – lead vocals
- Nick Sheppard – guitar, lead vocals on "North and South"
- Vince White – additional guitar on "Do It Now"
- Paul Simonon – bass, additional bass on "Do It Now"
- Pete Howard – drums, additional drums on "Do It Now"
- Hermann Weindorf – keyboards, synthesizers
- Norman Watt-Roy – bass
- Michael Fayne – drum machines, vocals on "Play to Win"
- Bernie Rhodes – drum machine programming
- Bernie Rhodes - producer (credited as "Jose Unidos")
|1985||Swedish Albums Chart||30|
|UK Albums Chart||16|
|US Billboard 200||88|
|1986||Canadian RPM Albums Chart||59|
|New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)||35|
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- Savage, Jon. England's Dreaming: The Sex Pistols and Punk Rock London: Faber and Faber, 1991. ISBN 0-312-28822-0