The Clash

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The Clash, AKA "the only band that matters" were a member of the original British Punk Rock movement of the '70s known as the "Class of 77". The band stand with the likes of The Ramones and The Sex Pistols in the pantheon of definitive punk rock bands. Unlike their peers at the time, however, the Clash were no firm believer of the pure Three Chords and the Truth ideology: they were not afraid of experimenting with a diverse range of musical styles, and as such were critically acclaimed musically. In addition to no-nonsense stripped-down punk rock, the Clash were known for their eclectic tastes and experimental approach, besides punk being influenced by and performing reggae, dub, ska, funk, pop-rock, New Wave and soul, among others. They were also simultaneously the second rock band to release a rap track, "The Magnificent Seven" in 1981 (a few months after Blondie's "Rapture"), and the first British group to perform rap music.

With politicised songs and committed lifestyles ensuring their fame amongst punk rockers, the Clash were unique for their relative musical sophistication, and thus are often thought as "a punk band with a rock-n-roll sound." The band's 1979 album London Calling serves as their Magnum Opus, often hailed as one of the finest punk rock records (and rock/popular music in general) ever recorded -- it is the highest rated punk album of all time in Rolling Stone's list, i.e. the popular yardstick. Also, at one point it was awarded as the best album of the '80s, despite having been released in December 14th, 1979, though this is true for the American release. The band's reputation of not being total assholes in interviews and their strong respect for their audience only adds to the vast amount of richly deserved respect directed at the group.

Members (classic lineup):

  • Joe Strummer - rhythm guitars, lead vocals
  • Mick Jones - lead guitars, vocals
  • Paul Simonon - bass
  • Topper Headon - drums
  • The Clash (1977)
  • Give 'Em Enough Rope (1978)
  • London Calling (1979)
  • Sandinista! (1980)
  • Combat Rock (1982)
  • Cut the Crap (1985)
The Clash is the Trope Namer for:
The Clash provides examples of the following tropes:

He who fucks nuns will later join the church.

  • Cover Version: e.g. "Brand New Cadillac", "Police On My Back", "Police and Thieves" and "I Fought the Law."
    • Covered Up: "I Fought the Law" and especially "Police on My Back".
  • Creator Backlash: Even Joe Strummer himself regretted recording Cut the Crap.
  • Easter Egg: An accidental one. "Train in Vain" was meant to be released as a promo for NME magazine. When that fell through, they quickly added it to London Calling after the packaging had already been printed. As a result, "Train in Vain" wasn't listed on the album cover. This didn't stop it from becoming one of the band's best songs.
  • Epic Riff: The famous "London Calling" bassline.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier In Spanish - Spanish bombs / yo te quiero infinito / yo te quiero oh mi corazon
    • Don't forget "Should I Stay or Should I Go"...
  • Executive Meddling: Upon hearing their debut self-titled album, the suits at their American record label decided it had too much filler, and decided to remove 5 songs and replace them with some of the band's British singles like "Remote Control" and "White Man in Hammersmith Palias". It is almost universally agreed by critics that this actually vastly improved the album, though some also note that adding in the mostly mid-tempo and more polished singles dilutes the UK version's Three Chords and the Truth feel a bit.
  • Genre Roulette: London Calling, Sandanista! and Combat Rock: Reggae, Punk Rap, proto-Twee Pop, Alternative Dance, Rockabilly, Funk, Ska, Dub, Calypso, Gospel, Acoustic rock, and even some experimental tracks full of random noises...
  • Godwin's Law: "If Adolf Hitler flew in today / They'd send a limousine anyway"
  • Gratuitous Spanish: "Spanish Bombs"; "Should I Stay or Should I Go".
  • Greatest Hits Album: The Essential Clash
  • He Also Did: After Mick Jones left the band, he joined the band General Public (but left shortly after they recorded their first album) and then formed Big Audio Dynamite, one of the more notable early Alternative Rock artists.
  • Jerkass/JerkassFacade: Surprisingly averted for an early punk rock band, usually seen as more authentic and violent in their rebeliousness. A good example would be to compare their Tom Snyder appearance and John Lydon's.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "London's Burning"
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Is there a jollier-sounding song about hardcore drug addiction than "Hateful"?
  • The Pete Best: Terry Chimes, Keith Levene.
  • Protest Song: Almost everything they wrote.
  • Refrain From Assuming: The "Stand by me" chorus of "Train in Vain" got so bad that in the States the single was released as "Train in Vain (Stand by Me)." The song itself is a last-minute addition and was not featured at the track listing, which makes things worse.
  • Rap Rock: Trope Maker Along with Blondie.
  • Rockers Smash Guitars: Provided the page image. Of course, the hilarity is that London Calling's cover is actually of Paul Simonon smashing his bass.
  • Second Person Narration: "The Guns of Brixton"
  • Shout-Out: At about 2:37 in "Remote Control", you can hear Strummer saying "I am a Dalek!", followed by "I am a robot!" and "I O-BEY!", all in the Dalek's usual speech patterns.
  • Something Completely Different: "Hitsville U.K.", a sweet love-letter to the then new independent label music scene which name checks a couple of the big players (Rough Trade, Factory, Small Wonder and Fast Product) and features lead vocals by Mick and his then-girlfriend, American actress Ellen Folley. The song's style is completely different to their other work and is often considered to be a forebearer to the twee pop genre.
    • Sandinista!, the album "Hitsville U.K." is on is itself completely different from the rest of their albums, including various songs in different genres.
      • Of particular note on Sandinista! is the song "Lose This Skin," which was written by, sung by, and prominently featured the violin playing of Tymon Dogg, with The Clash acting as his backing band.
  • Spanish Civil War: The song Spanish Bombs, from London Calling, was dedicated to the Republican side of the conflict.
  • Stage Names: John Mellor is Joe Strummer.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Paul Simonon on "The Guns of Brixton", "The Crooked Beat", and "Red Angel Dragnet"; Topper Headon on "Ivan Meets G.I. Joe"
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: After Mick Jones was fired, he was replaced with Mick Jones-lookalike Nick Sheppard.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: After all, they were part of the punk rock movement. By the time of London Calling, they had largely ditched this aesthetic.
  • Throw It In: The Gratuitous Spanish in "Should I Stay or Should I Go".

Strummer: On the spur of the moment I said 'I'm going to do the backing vocals in Spanish,'...We needed a translator so Eddie Garcia, the tape operator, called his mother in Brooklyn Heights and read her the lyrics over the phone and she translated them. But Eddie and his mum are Ecuadorian, so it's Ecuadorian Spanish that me and Joe Ely are singing on the backing vocals.

    • This is why a watch alarm can be heard in the second verse of "Rock The Casbah". Topper Headon's Dukes of Hazzard watch had accidentally went off, but the digitized version of the General Lee's horn matched the beat nicely, so they kept it in.