Good evening and welcome back to a rather healthy feeling but still hungry Clash Blog Towers. I’ve spent most of today working on a new client website for a local Indian restaurant and the photographs of delicious looking food have left me feeling a bit ravenous. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach which is fair enough, I just can’t get my head around why my stomach seems to have been made in Bangalore, it’s just the most wonderful and sensual food when done well. As luck would have it for dinner tonight I had a spinach and arugula salad with pear and blue cheese, nothing wrong with that but it hasn’t fixed my biryani craving one bit.
I wanted to thank Paolo on the Facebook page this morning for sending over a link to a Joe Strummer video that I’d never seen before. I’m sincerely hoping that if I’ve not seen it then a decent ratio of you won’t have viewed it before. You’ll find it below in full and was held with Music Planet just after the release of ‘Global A Go-Go’ which dates it from probably August 2001.
I watched it twice this morning with coffee and I have to say the first time made me miss Joe more than ever and the second time made me laugh aloud a few times and reflect on just how happy he was overall with life, with his place in the world and with working with The Mescaleros. He’ll make you laugh one minute and feel reflective the next, why we listen to music and why it matters are covered in fairly simple statements by Strummer but that doesn’t make them any less valid. He had arrived at a point where he was excited about music and about being alive, his recollection of his excitement over a hand dryer in a New York pub ‘ a cruddy old bit of iron on the wall’ showed that he wasn’t just wandering through life. Something to think about really.
Joe Strummer Music Planet interview – summer 2001
He credits the band as being key to his own excitement at that time and it made me think that Joe’s extensive time in the music ‘wilderness’ may have had much to do with not finding the right people to work with. He was never cut out to be a ‘solo act’ in the traditional sense of the term. Anyway I won’t ramble all too long about the interview, I really hope it will be new to some of you.
I know we tend to reflect on Joe in a louder/more public way in conjunction with certain anniversaries but like many of you I find it aches on an almost daily basis knowing he had to leave at such a young age and in the midst of a very productive phase for him. I hope he knew how much he’ll always matter.
Good morning, it’s a lovely foggy spring morning and I’m all ready with my coffee and some music and a stack of work but then it’s the weekend. I hope you enjoy yours wherever you may be.
It’s been written about a good few times before but I enjoyed this piece on CraveOnline about the 100 best songs that are under two minutes long. One of the oft-repeated cliches about punk music is that it was all three chords, a cloud of dust and everything was over in less than the magic two minute mark. The Clash did manage that on a number of their earliest songs (recorded versions) but live I think many of the tracks just over two minutes accelerated themselves under the same time threshold. Please check out the list, White Riot does make the top ten but in reality you can make a great case for it being in the top two or three. After all it was the debut single by a band that created the definitive album of 1977 and garage bands all over the world had a new blueprint to follow.
The two minute buzz that is often associated with punk was in no doubt in part associated with what had gone on between 1974-6, old established rock bands making endless songs that were more on the scale of mini-epics that punchy pop music. Bohemian Rhapsody is the perfect example at an endless 5:55, I remember as a kid thinking it was the longest thing I’d ever heard. DIY values and often musicianship saw the early punk bands charge through a song in a few minutes and once you got above 2:45 it seemed a bit close to the edge of staying around too long. To go against the grain then The Clash managed to sneak Police and Thieves into the mix clocking in at a hefty 6:01. In all the debut album contained five songs that got in under the two minute wire; White Riot, What’s My Name, Career Opportunities, Protex Blue and 48 Hours with another three (Janie Jones, London’s Burning and Cheat) just a few ticks beyond the benchmark. By way of contrast and when they headed back to the studio ‘Complete Control’ clocked in at 3:14.
The Clash, like most young bands, didn’t return to their opening brevity that often with only Koka Kola from London Calling as short along with Brand New Cadillac coming close plus The Leader from Sandinista! Many of the tracks on Cut The Crap were under 2 minutes but that was perhaps due to me moving the needle to the next track more often than not.
I guess The Ramones were the most loyal and arguably famous devotee to the two minute pace with 15 songs in all over the course of their first 3 albums clocking in under the barrier, more tellingly they failed to record a single song in excess of 2:59 over that same period. My memory obviously played tricks on me as I thought Buzzcocks were masters at the short song too but only one song on their first two releases fell into that category although they did stick to what worked, almost everything clocked in around 2:20-2:35. What two minute epics are your favourites?
Hello all and welcome back to the blog, it was a very good day today until I cooked dinner and proceeded to drop a large pot of rice all over the kitchen floor. It then became a very bad 15 minute spell punctuated by an incomplete meal and a very happy dog, I’m better now however.
I was just on ebay (I don’t know why either) and notice that there is another gathering swell of vintage The Clash t-shirts making their way onto the online auction site. I’m not sure if people are clearing out their attics or realising that they’ll never weigh what they once did ever again but the number of shirts in recent months is getting a bit mad to be honest. Going with the assumption that they are all 100% legitimate I don’t know what makes people pay $200, $300 or even more for a t-shirt that originally cost a tiny fraction of that. If I had the money and the desire I’d love to get some autographed photos or other memorabilia but a t-shirt that was mass produced in the first place seems to only hold real value by holding onto it as the original proud owner for all these years. I could be wrong?
I only recall purchasing a t-shirt at one of The Clash concerts I attended and that was the post Mick Jones Out of Control thing. It was a pretty ugly shirt and I don’t even remembering wearing it with much pride as I was still annoyed about the band getting rid of Jones. I never bought concert shirts regularly as I’d rather save the funds for another concert or a pint of cider, or if everything went well even the luxury of a shared taxi home now and then. Even so I know I acquired pretty early t-shirts for a number of bands between 1981-1986 and don’t have any left now. I did hang onto a bunch of James shirts in part because they were really well made and also in the knowledge that for a time in that bands career it was James shirt sales keeping them afloat such was their inability to sell records, which was a shame as they were brilliant both live and on record.
1982 tour t-shirt perhaps? Asking $249 on Ebay
So I wondered if many of you have very old Clash concert memorabilia that you’ve held onto. I’ve seen some wonderful old ticket stubs and a few flyers but I don’t recall t-shirts becoming really popular until about 1982 when marketing the brand as well as the band seemed to make the record companies sit up and take notice. On a related note was anyone ever manning a merchandise table for The Clash or indeed any other band? At the end of a tour what happened to all those unsold shirts in the days before the internet? Did they all get sent to a mysterious warehouse in Swindon to gradually seep onto ebay 25 years later or did they just get recycled? If there was a holding place for such things someone could well be sitting on a goldmine. Anyway I’ll put together a list of examples on the next post but would love to hear what you held onto.