ARTIST: The Clash
YEAR RELEASED: 1980
CHART ACTION: #24 US, #19 UK
SINGLES: The Call Up (#21 Dance, #40 UK), Police on My Back (#21 Mainstream), Hitsville UK (#53 Mainstream, #56 UK), The Magnificent Seven (#21 Dance, #34 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Washington Bullets, Charlie Don’t Surf.
LINEUP: Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon, Tymon Dogg, Mickey Gallagher, Norman Watt-Roy, and others
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Long, long sprawling album where the Clash explore all sorts of musical genres, foreshadowing the world music movement, and testing their audience’s patience.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: When first release, this was a triple album, and six songs per side. In the contents, the Clash explore, rap, reggae, dub, gospel, dance music, dub, R&B, calypso and music from other cultures and idioms. Listening to it all at once was (and is) a test of patience; it wears you out.
That’s not to say there’s no quality here. For the most part, the Clash come up with winners on almost every cut, and it stretches and broadens the listener’s musical experience. But there is some filler. The dub experiments are hit and miss, and their work with making ‘versions’ of songs by tracking the basic song backwards, or slowing it way down, is really a matter of tolerance. I myself have exiled four tracks – back in the day I came up with a 90 minute version for a cassette that I thought worked well. I do think they could have done the dubs and experiments as their own EP or something and maybe could have made this a double with everything else.
The only real ‘punk’ is their version of “Police on My Back”, but there are so many other rich treasures here. Skip and shuffle, and it works!
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Paul Simonon was filming a movie when they first started to record so Norman Watt-Roy came on board to help on bass for a few tracks. Topper Headon sings lead on “Ivan Meets GI Joe”, Simonon sings “The Crooked Beat” (with Mikey Dread on toasting), and Tymon Dogg sings “Lose This Skin”
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, man, no.
GRADE: B: Thirty six tracks, some are expendable. There’s a lot of great stuff here (25 or 26 tracks worth), and a lot you may or may not want to deal with, especially most of side six.