Monday Night Music Byte

The Clash were an English rock band that formed in 1976 as part of the original wave of British punk rock. Along with punk, they experimented with reggae, ska, dub, funk, rap and rockabilly. For most of their recording career, The Clash consisted of Joe Strummer (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Mick Jones (lead guitar, vocals), Paul Simonon (bass, backing vocals, occasional lead vocals) and Nicky “Topper” Headon (drums, percussion). Headon left the group in 1982, and internal friction led to Jones’s departure the following year. The group continued with new members, but finally disbanded in early 1986.

The Clash were a major success in the UK from the release of their debut album, The Clash, in 1977. Their third album, London Calling, released in the UK in December 1979, brought them popularity in the United States when it came out there the following month. Critically acclaimed, it was declared the best album of the 1980s a decade later by Rolling Stone magazine.

The Clash’s politicised lyrics, musical experimentation and rebellious attitude had a far-reaching influence on rock, alternative rock in particular. They became widely referred to as “The Only Band That Matters”, originally a promotional slogan introduced by the group’s record label, CBS. In January 2003 the band—including original drummer Terry Chimes—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked The Clash number 30 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

In August and September 1979, The Clash recorded London Calling. Produced by Guy Stevens, who had previously worked with Mott the Hoople and others, the double album was a mix of punk rock, reggae, ska, rockabilly, traditional rock and roll and other elements possessed of an energy that had hardly flagged since the band’s early days, but with greater maturity and production polish. It is regarded as one of the greatest rock albums ever recorded. London Calling reached number 9 on the British chart and number 27 on the US chart. Its final track, a relatively straightforward rock and roll number sung by Mick Jones called “Train in Vain”, was included at the last minute and thus did not appear in the track listing on the cover. It turned out to be their first US Top 40 hit, peaking at number 23 on the Billboard chart. In the UK, where “Train in Vain” was not released as a single, London Calling’s title track, stately in beat but unmistakably punk in message and tone, rose to number 11—the highest position any Clash single reached in the UK before the band’s breakup. During this period, The Clash began to be regularly billed as “The Only Band That Matters”. Musician Gary Lucas, then employed by CBS Records’ creative services department, claims to have coined the tagline. The epithet was soon widely adopted by fans and music journalists.

Disagreements between bandmembers regarding the musical direction of the Clash emerged and festered over the next three albums and the band effectively broke-up in 1986. In 1999, Strummer, Jones and Simonon cooperated in the compiling of the live album From Here to Eternity and video documentary Westway to the World. On 7 November 2002, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced that The Clash would be inducted into the Hall the following spring. On 15 November, Jones and Strummer shared the stage, performing three Clash songs during a London benefit show by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros.Strummer, Jones and Headon wanted to play a reunion show to coincide with their induction into the Hall. Simonon, however, did not want to participate because he believed that playing at the high-priced event would not have been in the spirit of The Clash. In the event, Strummer’s sudden death from a congenital heart defect on 22 December 2002 ended any possibility of a full reunion. In March 2003, the Hall of Fame induction took place; the band members inducted were Strummer, Jones, Simonon, Chimes and Headon. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked The Clash number 30 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Tonight’s video clip is a song from the great London Calling album. The song began as a instrumental track called “Working and Waiting”. It is sometimes called “Working for the Clampdown” which is the main lyric of the song, and also the title provided on the album’s lyric sheet. Its lyrics comment on people who forsake the idealism of youth and urges young people to fight the status quo.

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Posted on October 12, 2009, in Songs, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. What a great band and memories from this Byte.

    Loved these guys and saw them twice in 1982, in both Northern Cal (with neighbors who were envious that I was going to fly south and see them and The Who) and Southern Cal (with friend from work that actually knew the neighbors from a Superbowl Sunday incident the year before and boyfriend in No Cal that I met through the neighbors). The Clash put on a great show, as did The Who.

    Also, I saw Roger Daltrey at the Hollywood Bowl this past June.

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