ARTIST: The Clash
TITLE: Combat Rock
YEAR RELEASED: 1982
CHART ACTION: #7 US, #2 UK
SINGLES: Know Your Rights (#43 UK), Rock the Casbah (#8 US, #6 Mainstream, #8 Dance, #30 UK), Should I stay or Should I Go (#45 US, #13 Mainstream, #17 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Straight to Hell
LINEUP: Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon. Help from a bunch of their usual suspects (Ellen Foley, Tymon Dogg, Kosmo Vinyl, Tommy Mandel, Gary Barnacle) and others, like Allen Ginsberg, Joe Ely, Futura 2000.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The long awaited and deserved US commercial breakthrough papered over a big division in the band musically.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Roaring out of the gates with “Know Your Rights” and careening down 11 other songs with various styles and motifs but unified by a voice, the Clash’s experiments in London Calling and Sandanista! were boiled into one successful, and challenging record.
Tracks like “Red Angel Dragnet” (Paul Simonon did the reciting, with Kosmo Vinyl adding the Travis Bickle bit), “Sean Flynn”, and “Death Is a Star”, as out of the mainstream as they were, successfully melded into the commercial sphere. Other great tracks like “Straight to Hell” and “Car Jamming” were great album tracks supported by the hits.
The issue here is the hidden division between Mick Jones and Joe Strummer. Mick wanted a double album with longer tracks and more dance / dub experiments, but Joe and manager Bernie Rhodes shut that down. (You can find the proposed album on You Tube as Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg). By October 1983, they were basically done.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Drummer Topper Headon wrote the melody and piano part for “Rock the Casbah”, but was out of the band within weeks of release due to his drug addiction
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No
GRADE A: The experimental cuts don’t hit 100% but the album wouldn’t be the album without it.