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Friday, March 23, 2007

Cool Confusion

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 . . .

3 comments:

Py Korry said...

I have Sandinista! on LP. If you want me to make mp3s of the songs and send it to you, let me know!

Matthew said...

Eric,
Get in touch if you'd like a copy of Sandinista. Although I've loved The Clash since I was 15, the first album of theirs I ever heard was Combat Rock. I've always loved it and thought it was quite underrated by both fans and critics, but part of that is because I have a soft spot for it because of when I heard it. Eventually, though, I got all their albums but Sandinista was the toughest one to crack, so to speak. However, after all these years, it may my favorite thing that they ever did. It takes a long time to get into it, but overall though it has a bunch of filler, it's a long, sprawling album that has to be heard in its entirety to be fully appreciated. Thus, it is like listening to a box set in that way. Just the sheer range they covered on that album is amazing and unmatched by virtually anyone. Oh and avoid Cut the Crap at all cost.

japanesegodjesusrobot said...

I forgot to link to my blogger account above. Sorry.