The Clash (US Version) – Album Review

by Emilio Pérez Miguel on August 4, 2009

Rocking The Town To The Clash City Rockers

Rocking The Town To The Clash City Rockers

In the same way that the first albums released by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were revamped and even drastically modified for US release, The Clash’s eponymous album underwent the cut-and-paste treatment when it was released in the States in the year 1979.

Every person who has listened to the original album (released in 1977, obviously) arrives at the same conclusion: the original has a more organic flow, whereas the American edition features better individual songs. That is nothing surprising – the US edition ended up resembling a sort of mini compilation of their best songs up to that point. Songs that were added to the American release (which boasted 15 songs, as opposed to the 14 the British release included) featured the hits “Clash City Rockers”, “Complete Control”, “White Man In Hammersmith Palais” and “I Fought The Law”, a song which stuck out like a sore thumb because the production values were so much higher. That is something to take into account – the original LP was recorded in a dilapidated warehouse, and it sounded like that. You put something like “I Fought The Law” in the middle, and it feels like placing a scene from “I Am Legend” into “The Omega Man”.

Leaving aside production values and whether or not such an approach is valid, the fact remains that this is a great introduction to one of the bands that helped define a movement, and which then followed a unique artistic vision . The “original” songs reflected the ennui that caused the punk explosion in the first place: “Career opportunities”, “Janie Jones” and “London’s Burning” dealt with the lack of prospects and (ultimately) the lack of adrenaline the youth of Britain felt at the time.

Janie Jones:



This is “Career Opportunities” performed at a much later date:

For its part, “I’m So Bored With The USA” made it all too clear that the outlook on life they were looking for was something that reflected who they were, and not a fabricated image from a culture they deemed as extraneous, and which they partly blamed for the stagnated state of music.

And the album had so much more to offer. “Hate & War” acted as a foreword to the more politic and societal numbers that were imminent, and in that specific context (a time when racial riots and revolts were becoming just a little too tangible) it reminded everybody that the concept of England as an empire was feebler than ever. Speaking of which, “Police & Thieves” was an excellent cover that had a superb bass line and which (placed in this light) also reflected urban insecurity.

One of the “new” songs is directly linked to one of the “original” compositions: the fierce “Complete Control” was born after their record company released the poppy (yet excellent) “Remote Control” as a single without their consent. Punks walked the way they talked it. And if you doubt it, just listen to “Complete Control”. It was a vivid statement of independence, and I am sure it endeared them to even more people.

Complete Control:

Finally, both the US and UK editions ended with “Garageland”, their best take on the contemporary music scene they ever penned as far as I am concerned. While songs like “All The Young Punks” and “Cheapskates” were better-recorded and richer instrumentally, this one benefited from the rawer sound and the lyrics were funny, daft and veritable at the same time. A remarkable achievement indeed, and one that showcased they had the fuel and the passion for going as far as they could, and (more importantly) as far as we as the public needed them to go. To remind us that there is always more than meets the eye, and that some doors are meant to be kicked down.

Rating: 8.5/10

{ 2 trackbacks }

The Clash – General Introduction | MusicKO
October 26, 2009 at 11:46 am
Combat Rock (The Clash) – Album Review | MusicKO
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