A happy new week to you all then as we steam into another Monday on the blog. I just don’t know where the time goes anymore as it seems like it should be midsummer and yet here we are in the second week of October. I also noticed that I have the very best intentions when it comes to rolling along with The Clash Cup and yet once I think it’s about a week since the latest installment it turns out that it’s been close to three weeks which is unforgivably long. My October resolution will be to get to at least three more match ups before Halloween so tonight will be the first. If you happen to be new to the blog it’s a simple process where you vote for the best Clash song based upon a random match up, better still is proportional representation is offered so that runners-up can still make it through to the next round with good support. We’re getting closer to the final 64 songs now and the beginning of round three, the final goal is to propose the best 16, 8 and then the final four best Clash songs ever recorded. According to you, the cream of Clash fans. Before that we have to review the last pairing which I’m ashamed to say was back on September 18.
English Civil War defeated Four Horsemen 39-19
That was far more one-sided than I had expected, but for once (at last) my preferred choice made it through to the next round. I’m very curious to see how many tracks from London Calling make it to the final 64 but Four Horsemen won’t be one of them. So let’s move on to the next terrific twosome.
Clash Cup Round 2 Match 12
What’s My Name versus Jimmy Jazz
This really is a fantastic pairing of songs for so many reasons. First of all both of them are really good tracks and it would be a shame to see either depart with The Clash Cup quite so early. Better still is a huge contrast in styles of the two songs, if you bumped into some herbert who had only ever heard ‘Rock The Casbah’ and wanted to know more about The Clash just imagine if you threw these two songs at him or her to listen to. If you have no prior knowledge of the band you’d probably be shocked to realize it was the same group in the first place, What’s My Name is almost a prototype 1976 English punk song although I think the original version may have predated Joe Strummer joining the band that summer, but received his lyrical reworking like some other early Mick Jones tracks. As for musicianship it along with White Riot is one of the more basic Clash tracks to play but what it lacks in complexity it makes up for with aggression and lyrical nous. Hard to believe then that just three years later the same band knocked out Jimmy Jazz for the London Calling album, what would have been a huge departure in 1978 somehow fit just perfectly onto the album that established the band as being willing to draw from the past as much as write about the future. The origins of the song lay with Topper Headon and his desire to do something with a jazz feel on the album, when added to Joe Strummer’s ability to ‘tell that tale’ plus the introduction of brass you have a Clash song unlike any other.
Round 1 What’s My Name defeated The Right Profile 72% of the vote
Round 1 Jimmy Jazz defeated If Music Could Talk 74% of the vote
Back in the first round both songs had to overcome fairly stubborn opposition but did so quite comfortably it looks. If Jimmy Jazz is one of the least likely Clash songs on London Calling, then the song that What’s My Name defeated in round one would probably run a close second. I had thought The Right Profile would have done a bit better, but support for some of the early Clash songs seems to be very strong. With all that said I don’t quite know which way you lot might vote on this pairing. I think it will be very close but Jimmy Jazz will just win it by head. Chop Chop!
This is sometimes a tricky bit, trying to tell you something about the songs that you don’t already know. As it happens I’m in the middle of that Marcus Gray book about the making of London Calling, whilst it’s an interesting read at times it gets very very detailed to the point where you need a cup of coffee and a cigarette after reading some chapters – so full of information is his writing. He also runs through track by track in such exquisite detail that you feel a bit overwhelmed by the information, you can’t argue the facts really but you can debate the interpretation of some songs at least to a certain extent. Jimmy Jazz is one such song where the lyrics are examined as painstakingly as a crime scene, though I’m not convinced that Strummer had quite so much in mind when to a certain extent the song is so brilliant because it feels quite free-form and he literally skats his way through it. As for trivia, opening whistle isn’t provided by Joe or any member of the Clash but by band friend and roadie The Baker (what a relief, thanks for correction lads…). As for What’s My Name, I just checked and the song does get co-writing credits for Keith Levene so it was kicking around from the very early days. It’s a song that is either about alienation or just general confusion, some observerance about boredom by its very nature just simply getting you into trouble, which it can, and does, and I have.
Before you cast your vote, I always urge you to take one last listen to both songs before clicking a mouse so that you vote with a clear conscience. As ever I will provide a few links to get you started, I don’t think you can top this live version of Jimmy Jazz from New Jersey in 1980. ‘Who said no birds will sing’. For What’s My Name you can find a great selection of lovely raw recording from the earlier gigs, but this one from Manchester in 1977 is a must see/hear for Joe Strummer going simply mental.
Thanks for voting, polls are all yours until Friday. Please add your comments to explain your voting, I always enjoy that. Talk to you soon.
Which Clash Song Stays in The Clash Cup? Round 2 match 12
- What's My Name (44%, 31 Votes)
- Jimmy Jazz (56%, 40 Votes)
Total Voters: 71