The Clash: The Clash – [Record 11]
The Clash: is the eponymous debut studio album by English punk rock band The Clash. It was released on 8 April 1977, through CBS Records.
1, Clash City Rockers.
2, I’m So Bored With The U.S.A.
3, Remote Control.
4, Complete Control.
5, White Riot.
6, White Man In Hammersmith Palais.
7, London’s Burning.
8, i Fought the Law.
9, Janie Jones.
10, Career Opportunities.
11, What’s My Name.
12, Hate & War.
13, Police & Thieves.
14, Jail Guitar Doors.
Background: Most of the album was conceived on the 18th floor of a council high rise on London’s Harrow Road, in a flat that was rented by Jones’ grandmother, who frequently went to see their live concerts. The album was recorded over three weekend sessions at CBS Studio 3 in February 1977. By the third of these sessions the album was recorded and mixed to completion, with the tapes being delivered to CBS at the start of March. It cost £4000 to produce.
Album cover: The cover artwork was designed by Polish artist Rosław Szaybo. The album’s front cover photo, shot by Kate Simon, was taken in the alleyway directly opposite the front door of the band’s ‘Rehearsal Rehearsals’ building in Camden Market. Drummer Terry Chimes, though a full member of The Clash at the time, did not appear in the picture as he had already decided to leave the group. Another picture from the same Kate Simon photoshoot appears on the UK Special Edition DVD of Rude Boy, released in 2003. The picture of the charging police officers on the rear, shot by Rocco Macauly, was taken during the 1976 riot at the Notting Hill Carnival—the inspiration for the track “White Riot”.
Songs: The subject of the opening track, “Janie Jones”, was a famous brothel keeper in London during the 1970s. “Remote Control” was written by Mick Jones after the Anarchy Tour and contains pointed observations about the civic hall bureaucrats who had cancelled concerts, the police, big business and especially record companies. CBS decided to release the song as a single without consulting the band. “I’m So Bored with the USA”, developed from a Mick Jones song, entitled “I’m So Bored with You”, condemns the Americanization of the UK. “White Riot” was The Clash’s debut single. The song is short and intense, punk style of two chords played very fast (5 chords in total song). Lyrically, the song is about class economics and race.
“Career Opportunities”, the opening track of the second side of the album, attacks the political and economic situation in England at the time, citing the lack of jobs available, and the dreariness and lack of appeal of those that were available. “Protex Blue”, sung by Mick Jones, is about a 1970s brand of condom. The song ends with the shouted phrase “Johnny Johnny!”, “johnny” being a British slang term for a condom. The version of “White Riot” featured on here was not recorded for the album. Instead, they used the original demo version, recorded at Beaconsfield Studios before the band signed to CBS.
“Police & Thieves” was added to the album when the group realized that the track listing was too short. Another cover the band played at these sessions was Bob Marley’s “Dancing Shoes”. “Garageland” was written in response to Charles Shaar Murray’s damning review of The Clash’s early appearance at the Sex Pistols Screen on the Green concert – “The Clash are the kind of garage band who should be returned to the garage immediately, preferably with the engine running”. It was the final track recorded for the album.
Released in the United Kingdom through CBS Records in 1977, engineered by CBS staff engineer Simon Humphrey and produced by Clash live soundman Mickey Foote, at the (since demolished) CBS Whitfield Street Studio No. 3. The Clash was unusually musically varied for a punk band, with reggae and early rock and roll influences plainly evident.
Reception: The album received critical acclaim and peaked at number 12 in the UK charts. In his 1979 consumer guide for The Village Voice, critic Robert Christgau gave the album’s US import an A rating and stated, “Cut for cut, this may be the greatest rock and roll album (plus limited-edition bonus single) ever manufactured in the U.S. It offers 10 of the 14 titles on the band’s British debut as well as 7 of the 13 available only on 45. […] The U.K. version of The Clash is the greatest rock and roll album ever manufactured anywhere”. In his decade-end list for The Village Voice, he ranked the UK version as the best album of the 1970s.
In February 1993, the New Musical Express magazine ranked the album number 13 in its list of the Greatest Albums of All Time. NME also ranked The Clash number 3 in its list of the Greatest Albums of the ’70s, and wrote in the review that “the speed-freaked brain of punk set to the tinniest, most frantic guitars ever trapped on vinyl. Lives were changed beyond recognition by it”.
In December 1999, Q magazine rated the album 5 stars out of 5, and wrote that The Clash “would never sound so punk as they did on 1977’s self-titled debut….Lyrically intricate…it still howled with anger”. The same magazine placed The Clash at number forty-eight in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever in 2000, and included The Clash in its “100 Best Punk Albums”, giving it 5 stars out of 5, in May 2002.
In 2000, Alternative Press rated the album 5 out of 5. Alternative press review saw The Clash as an eternal punk album, a blueprint for the pantomime of “punkier” rock acts, and that for all of its forced politics and angst, The Clash continues to sound crucial.
In May 2001, Spin magazine ranked the album number 3 in its list of the 50 Most Essential Punk Records, and wrote “Punk as alienated rage, as anticorporate blather, as joyous racial confusion, as evangelic outreach and white knuckles and haywire impulses”.
In 2003, the (US version) was ranked number 77 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time about which was said “youthful ambition bursts through the Clash’s debut, a machine-gun blast of songs about unemployment, race, and the Clash themselves.”
In March 2003, Mojo magazine ranked The Clash number 2 in its Top 50 Punk Albums, writing that the album was “the ultimate punk protest album. Searingly evocative of dreary late ’70s Britain, but still timelessly inspiring”.
Noted Jamaican producer Lee Perry heard the album while in London in 1977, and played it to Bob Marley, who in turn mentioned The Clash on his own track “Punky Reggae Party”.