"Remote Control" is a song by The Clash, featured on their debut album, and is written against oppression and conformity.
The song was written by Mick Jones after the disastrous Anarchy Tour and contains pointed observations about the civic hall bureaucrats who had cancelled concerts, the police, big business and especially record companies. The song mentions a 'meeting in Mayfair' which probably refers to one held by EMI's shareholders on 7 December 1976, which effectively withdrew all support for the Anarchy Tour. Also alluded to in the song are the 'old-boy' peerage networks and hapless politicians.
The band virtually disowned the song, following their record label CBS's decision to release the song as a single without consulting the band. The band had already told Melody Maker magazine that their next single would be "Janie Jones", and were irate that CBS had undermined them and made a decision to release "Remote Control" instead without the band's permission. To the band, the song became a symbol of everything they were fighting against. The incident was referred to in the first lines of a later song, "Complete Control", which is on the 1979 US release of the album:
- They said, 'Release "Remote Control", but we didn't want it on the label... -
The band re-recorded the song in early summer 1979 during rehearsals at Vanilla Studios in Vauxhall for London Calling. In liner notes for "The Vanilla Tapes", released in 2004, which includes the song, Mick Jones is quoted as saying:
- I think Joe [Strummer] disliked it on a symbolic level, because of what happened with the release. But we always liked the tune. -