Good morning, glad that you could join us. I feel like someone punched me in the ribs this morning, so unless a late night intruder was intent on bashing me rather than nicking all our stuff then I can’t account for it…weird. I also can’t account for how Spurs are winning the game I have on versus Sunderland, but at least Arsenal stuffed them three-nil last weekend. Right then a quick Clash story this morning and then the return of the Clash Cup. (Speaking of…we are 3-0 up at H/T today as I watch while I write)
1979 and more specifically September-December 1979 was responsible (in my opinion) for a release of a clutch of albums that is unrivaled in terms of brilliance. I mean to write more about this but I wonder what happened in the UK in the summer of ’79 to mark the release of these albums?
- The Clash – London Calling
- Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
- The Jam – Setting Sons
- Gang of Four – Entertainment
- The Specials – The Specials
- Madness – One Step Beyond
- Elvis Costello – Armed Forces
I’d put these 7 records up against any 7 over a six month spell, but what a magic year that was. Anyway I mention it as CBS/Sony/Legacy in their infinite greed wisdom are re-releasing London Calling as a special 30th Anniversary edition to commemorate the event this December. If, like me, you think didn’t we just do this – you would be right. The 25th Anniversary version with the ‘making of’ DVD and the ‘Vanilla Tapes’ was released back in 2004 (naturally) and contained just about enough to satisfy a Clash fan. The Vanilla tapes were the famed outtakes and demos from the LC sessions that had gone missing for so many years. If truth be told the bonus CD of these versions was interesting but not spectacular or entirely crucial. I’d term it ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘must have’ item for a Clash fan. The DVD was interesting but again I haven’t returned to it as often as I might have liked to. So what can we expect from Sony/Legacy on this anniversary?
I haven’t found the official record company blurb on this yet but rumours are that a live disc featuring many of the tracks from the album recorded in late 1979 are what’s on offer. Legacy who claim on their site “We love music as much as you do” should perhaps change their motto to “Blood from a stone”. In fairness to members of The Clash these decisions are out of their hands as the label seems intent on making more out of the artist at any cost. Will I purchase it? As a completist I probably will as I’m curious to hear more live material and the lack of ‘official’ live recordings is a tragedy. If like me, you were lucky enough to see The Clash live it was such a different proposition to the studio work. Not always guaranteed in terms of quality but from chaos oftentimes came something quite amazing. Let’s hope (if a live disc is what to expect) that the label release something from the archives that is worthy of inclusion. The ownership and intentions of The Clash/Big Audio
World's End flats, Chelsea (Thames in the background)
Dynamite/Joe Strummer archived material is the cause of many rumours and debate online. I’ll delve deeper into that in a future post, needless to say there is so much speculation that I’m never sure what to believe in terms of actual feasibility.
Here’s what I do know, in December 1979 The Clash released a 19 track double album that closed the doors on a punk heritage and opened the band and (most) of their fans up to something much broader. The variety of style and craft on the album has left a document that stands up to 30 years of scrutiny and it’s one of those rare moments where something seen as being at the apex at the time of release still maintains that excellence all these years later. More to come on this topic and I’d be fascinated to hear what you thought of the 25th anniversary edition and the forthcoming release. This here music cause a sensation !
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Hello and welcome back, something is trying to stop me from keeping the Clash Blog on track! Internet was out for a few days this week – cable company finally arrived to announce that they had disconnected the wrong house. Nice one indeed. Apologies – yes … Refund for missed service – of course not….(it’s not like I need the internet for my job as I work from home…oh wait yes I do). Needless to say playing catch up has meant the blog hit the pause button again…for which I’m sorry.
Big News though –- Don Letts has announced he is going to be working on a documentary all about the Strummerville foundation. That’s good news on two fronts, firstly what a great and worthy topic for his next project coupled with (in my eyes) an ideal person to put it together. Letts’ affilation with Strummer and The Clash goes right back to 1977. He has worked ceaselessly the last decade in chronicling the London scene and the role that The Clash played. I honestly can’t wait to see the outcome of this although my initial concern as with most things cinematic is whether we will see a global release? The internet has enabled me to get essentially any CD I need even if it’s not imported to the USA but with the regional issues that impact DVD you never know where that leaves you. When I learn more I will of course share that information. Letts most recent work was Carnival which was released this August as I covered on the blog. Here’s a link to the trailer….
Back to the Strummerville project — beneath is the official blurb from Brassneck TV (Letts production company) and of course Strummerville have additional information right here.
Brassneck TV are producing a film about Strummerville, the charity set up following the untimely death of Joe Strummer in 2002. The charity aims to create new opportunities for aspiring musicians, reflecting The Clash frontman’s unique contribution to the music world. Directed by Grammy winner Don Letts, the film will feature performance footage and interviews with Strummerville artists, supporters and founders, plus previously unseen footage of Strummer himself.
In unrelated news Echo and the Bunnymen have cancelled their forthcoming US tour dates which is a huge let down. The reasons are self-explanatory but sad nonetheless. Right, I’ll be back within 12 hours with more news…I’ve got research to do, emails to answer and The Clash Cup delay will come to an end this weekend…GUARANTEED !! Also a quick shout for punk rock.org, lots of youngsters there looking to learn more about ‘old school’ punk (makes me feel like a right gran-dad) but nice to help. Have a look if you can some nice people over there.
I wanted to share this article from the NME which is in equal parts abrasive and thought provoking. NME are running a series of articles entitled ‘sacred cows’ which revisits older classic albums and tries to put the legend in context, in this entry the album on display is the debut (and only official) album by The Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks. Of course you already knew that…
image courtesy contactmusic.com
Before I write this paragraph please understand that when I grew up and became exposed to punk/new wave/post punk (1978)- the Pistols were already finished whilst The Clash had just released Give Em Enough Rope. I spent my teen years waiting for the next move by The Clash, The Jam and The Specials, before later adding Echo and The Bunnymen, Joy Division, New Order, The Cure etc to my list of records I had to get. So in that sense the Pistols never felt ‘current’ it seemed like a look backward and I also saw the divided camps between the Pistols and The Clash – few I knew were fans of both which I found myself being a part of (I was young!). Naturally there are merits in both bands but I don’t think I ever changed my initial assessment that The Clash spoke to me more. So what of the article and the album itself? The Pistols debut has a worthy place in the history of music and more specifically punk rock. Its the only ‘punk’ album I’ve consistently seen in some people’s very pedestrian music collections that are otherwise cluttered up with Tracy Chapman, Pearl Jam and REM. Perhaps that in itself is a testament to the ‘must have’ aspect of the record? I’m not so sure, though it’s got some very strong (yes landmark is fair to say) songs speaking for myself I find half the album is sub par and not something I return to often. I own the album and always have, I don’t find myself returning to it as often as I do the earliest work of The Clash, The Saints, The Damned, Buzzcocks.
I’m not sure why – the main reasons are probably the production coupled with over-familiarity. I liked the raw ‘tinny’ debut of The Clash debut, the error strewn noise of The Buzzcocks and The Damned whereas ‘Never Mind…’ always seemed quite polished to my ears. First impressions last longest…while I’d admit that the Sex Pistols were absolutely vital (even if you just focus upon who they motivated) I only feel 4 or 5 tracks can be elevated to the inner circle of music history – so as a result I can’t consider the album amongst my personal top 50 of all time. That leaves me at a loss to explain how I the Pistols were one of the 15 most important bands ever and probably in the top 4 for the 1970′s.What can never be denied is that in 1976 The Sex Pistols flipped everything in music upside down….which was crucial to The Clash and the music that followed.
Anyway, please read the article if you can **and especially the comments** some that mention The Clash. Incidentally McLaren ‘managing’ the New York Dolls is one of those great myths, he was consulting on some clothes for the band, not planning their music career.