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Sound of Punk -The Clash

Updated on March 1, 2013

Although I was not a teenager in 1970`s London I really got what the Clash were aiming for in my young adulthood in the late 1990`s . They set out to preach their message to all angst ridden youths, not just the displaced youth of the inner city. Their lyrics and music are built from 1970`s social and political upheaval, their music still rings as true and vocal nearly four decades later. From the very first moment you hear a song by the Clash, you know who you are listening too, and you feed of the raw energy of the music and the passion of the lyrics. The Clash and other Punk Bands were created to stem the middle of the road attitude that rock music had fallen into in the mid 1970`s.

The Rolling Stones and The Beatles were the bands of their parents now their songs meant little to the youth of the late 1970`s. How ironic is it now, that a band setting out to blow away these type of bands are now mentioned in the same breath as them. The Clash were a Punk band which had a mixture of guitars, propaganda, reggae and aggression. By their own admission they claimed not to have any real musical talent, yet they made up for it in passion and spirit.

Bassist Paul Simonon
Bassist Paul Simonon

The Clash and the Sex Pistols were the iconic figureheads of the British Punk scene, The Clash released their self-titled debut album a full six months before the Sex Pistols and were in the Sex Pistols shadow for a short time owing to the Sex Pistols larger than life persona. The Clash were formed in 1976 by three former art students Joe Strummer ( Guitar and vocals ), Mick Jones ( Lead Guitar and vocals ) and Paul Simonon ( Bass Guitar and vocals ). The London they lived in had just seen increased social tension due to the Notting Hill Carnival rioting. The formation of The Clash gave the three a vehicle to set out their own opinions about the state of their Great Britain. The Clash more than other Punk groups showed a lot more political rhetoric in their lyrics compared to The Sex Pistols and their love of Anarchy!

Critics of The Clash are quick to point out they are a Punk band signed to a large corporate label (CBS) so their punk credentials are flawed. But if you want to put your message across I believe you need to reach your audience, and that they definitely did. A memorable Clash lyric of the first album is " Turning Rebellion into money " and in a way all anti-establishment music is a form of milking teenagers out of their disposable income. Other critics point out that been art students they knew how to present the right image but ultimately its just a lie. But I believe the honesty and emotion of the lyrics are a good argument for The Clash been for real.

Mick Jones (left) and Joe Strummer (right)
Mick Jones (left) and Joe Strummer (right)

The Clash managed to outlast the other Punk bands of their era and had success with various songs particularly " Should I stay or should I go" and " Rock the Casbah" but by the mid 1980`s The Clash had ceased to exist as The Clash. The Clash refused offers to reform and tour on the back of a resurgence of interest in the 1990`s due to a LEVI advert using their music in a Jean commercial. It is a bit ironic that Mick Jones allowed his song to be used by another corporate giant, but the royalties off the song usage would have been quite big. Rock the Casbah was used by US Air Force personnel during the first Gulf War and the song re-entered the mainstream charts.

The Clash produced some great albums mixing in politics and rock, and they had definitely inspired many bands after them. My own favourite band The Manic Street Preachers really learnt to wear their Political heart on their sleeve. The Clash's power and raw emotion that is a major factor in that. Below is a list of their albums and I suggest you give a few of them a listen. That way you can judge for yourself, my personal favourite song is " Garageland" off their debut album.

Clash Albums

  1. The Clash - April 1977
  2. Give 'em enough rope - November 1978
  3. London Calling - December 1979
  4. Sandinista - December 1980
  5. Combat Rock - May 1982
  6. Cut the Crap - November 1985


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    • bassgodjimmy profile image

      bassgodjimmy 6 years ago from New Jersey

      i love the clash and always will. even in 2011, im still playing London Calling every day when I wake up. Whats more suprising.... im only 13