As I'm finally nearing the final page of Pat Gilbert's Passion is a Fashion: The Real Story of the Clash, I'm more and more interested in hearing the band's post-London Calling material. For years I've heard this material should be avoided, but the curiosity just grows and grows.
My time with the Clash has been a really weird matter. "Rock the Casbah" was my introduction to them, as it was one of the many pop hits I heard in the Eighties. But by the mid-Nineties, the Clash's legacy was a confusing thing to me. An excellent feature in Guitar World by J.D. Considine featured an album-by-album review which convinced me to at least check out London Calling. At the time, my idea of punk rock was fast, semi-tuneful music. I didn't understand punk as a mindset just yet. So that's why I was befuddled about how this album was considered a punk classic. I really liked a number of songs on the album (especially the title track), but this had rockabilly, ska, reggae, and rock songs sounding somewhat like Bruce Springsteen. How was this punk? I came around in college.
While sitting in my dorm one night, a friend knocked on my door and wanted to play a Clash song for me. It was "(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais." I really dug it and proceeded to get the Story of the Clash set, then the self-titled, Give 'Em Enough Rope and Super Black Market Clash, and Clash On Broadway in quick succession. I was a fan, but approached Sandinista! and Combat Rock with a lot of caution. As a matter of fact, I rarely listened to any tracks off of disc 3 of Clash On Broadway because I wasn't taken by the samplings I heard.
Then came a really interesting take on Sandinista! from the one and only George Gimarc: he said the Clash gave people enough material to make their own album if they wanted to. Indeed, the material found on six sides of vinyl/two CDs could make a single reggae record, rock record or whatever else. I've always taken his advice with getting into a box set, but I've never gotten the chance to do this with Sandinista! I think the time's finally come.
I'm hoping I'll find a used copy or some kind soul will have the album in MP3 form somewhere. But I still have a lot of trepidation towards Combat Rock (Kyle's write-up on it has stuck with me) and Cut the Crap (aka, the album that is disowned by many critics and fans since Mick Jones and Topper Headon aren't on it). Funny, I vaguely remember the days when I would buy all of the records by a band/artist in one blast and sort things out later . . .