Tag: The Clash

MUSIC REVIEW | The Clash – Cut the Crap (1985)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Is there a worse final album from a band this revered?”

Clash 1.jpg
By the mid 80s, The Clash were seven or eight years, and five albums into being a hugely successful, internationally renowned band.  They had played a major part in taking punk rock to the world, and released several records that are still seen as masterpieces three decades later.  Then, they fired half of their seminal line up, lead guitarist Mick Jones and drummer Topper Headon.  One album later, the band would be completely broken up and much mudslinging would ensue.

In this revisit of the band’s discography, I’ve been kind of dreading this last album.  It doesn’t have the greatest reputation, and I was always partial to the slightly poppier tendencies of Jones and the way he counter balanced the aggression of Joe Strummer.  But now, I just found another reason to expect the worst form Cut the Crap, it’s not on Spotify.  Every other studio album, live release and compilation is on there right now, for your listening pleasure.  But no Cut the Crap, almost like the surviving members of The Clash would prefer to pretend it never happened. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | The Clash – Combat Rock (1982)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Hit and miss, but the hits are so good, they still make it pretty great overall.”

Clash 1.JPG
After the mammoth scope and ambition of the double album London Calling, and the beyond epic triple long player that was Sandinista!, I was happy to see that The Clash returned to something a little more trimmed back for their next release.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved London Calling and Sandinista!   I think they both lived up to their ambition in a way that’s nothing less than remarkable.  But in the end, my favourite version of The Clash is the more straight forward, stripped back, to the pint version of The Clash.  And I was hoping for a return to that approach with Combat Rock.

I hope that was immediately satisfied with Know Your Rights.  Straight forward, stripped back, to the point, and best of all, pissed off.  After a pair of Strummer tunes to start, Mick Jones explodes with possibly the poppiest hit the band ever recorded, Should I Stay or Should I Go.  Usually, referring to a song as poppy while talking about a band like this would sound like a slight, but I love this song.  It’s a punk rock classic, an 80s rock classic, and just an all ‘round classic in any category you want to put it in. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | The Clash – Sandinista! (1980)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It’s a long haul, but one that only feels like hard work in seldom, fleeting moments.”

Clash 1
When it comes to musicians and bands, there’s prolific, then there’s posthumous 2Pac, and then, there’s The Clash.  As a recording band, they were only in existence for eight years, in which time they released six studio albums.  At least four of which are still seen as classics.  In their first four years alone, they released four albums.  Including the double vinyl London Calling.  And this, the beyond epic, triple vinyl monster that is Sandinista!

A monster that starts amazingly strong with Magnificent Seven.  Built around what might be one of the greatest basslines in rock history, Joe Strummer’s seething anger is at a clenched maximum from the get go, setting a very high bar for the record to maintain for staggering 35 more tracks. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | The Clash – London Calling (1979)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Such a varied, wide ranging album sonically and stylistically.”

Clash 1
Before I started listening to London Calling for this review, I already had an intro half written in my head.  I was gonna talk about how it was the pivot point between The Clash proving themselves with the first two records, then using the mainstream mega success gained here to attempt something a little more ambitious with the triple album epic, Sandinista.  Turns out I was wrong about all of it.

While London Calling is the iconic record and image of the band today, it’s predecessor was actually a bigger chart hit back in the day.  And as far as ambitious, epic records go, I had no idea that London Calling was itself just that, with 19 tracks clocking in at well over an hour.  So while I assumed this would be the most familiar Clash album in this career retrospective, I was really pumped to realise just how blind I was going into this legendary and important piece of rock and roll history. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | The Clash – Give ‘Em Enough Rope (1979)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “A sign of the Clash growing as musicians, gaining more and more musical weapons at their disposal to get their message out there.”

Rope 1
There’s a reason that the terms “difficult second album” and “sophomore slump” are so commonly used in music criticism.  Bands often have a lifetime to write their first album.  Then, if it’s anything close to successful, they have a lot less time and lot more pressure to back it up with something better.  I have to believe that it’s even harder to back up when your first album is an explosion, punch in the face burst of raw emotion like The Clash’s eponymous debut.  Never the less, there they were just two years later, going just as hard, and pushing things even further, with Give ‘Em Enough Rope.

Making it clear that they had lost none of the urgency from their debut, Safe European Home has Give ‘Em Enough Rope burst out of the gates at top speed.  But it also finds room for a little more melody than its self titled predecessor was ever concerned with.  Things are far from subtle when the Clash steals a traditional, rally cry, patriotic melody for a song called English Civil War.  It’s a juxtaposition that makes sure their point is made before a single word is sung. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | The Clash – The Clash (1977)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “One of the most important records in rock and roll history.”

Clash 1
When people talk about the origins of punk rock, bands like The Ramones, The Sex Pistols and The Clash are usually pretty quickly mentioned.  Here’s the thing, I like the Ramones, but I think they basically just sped up and turned up classic 50s rock n roll.  And I think The Sex Pistols were basically nothing more than a manufactured boy band, not much different to New Kids on the block or One Direction.  But The Clash, they’re a band I can get on board with being hailed as pioneers.  Not just in punk rock, but in rock in general.  So, I decided to make my way through their catalogue for Bored and Dangerous, starting where they did, with their eponymous debut, 1977’s The Clash.

With its urgent, impatient drums and Joe Strummer’s just as urgent vocals, Janie Jones is a pretty amazing way for a band to kick off their debut album.   It might not be as loud, or fast, or heavy as punk would become, but that doesn’t mean it lacks any of the attitude or energy.   It sets such an urgent tone, Remote Control comes off as almost restrained and pretty in comparison.  In two songs, this fledgling band pretty much justifies being the revered icons they have been for almost four decades. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | ***A.V WEEK*** ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic – In 3-D (1984)

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic was an enormous star in the 80s, selling millions of albums.  For me, it was a huge deal every time one of his videos showed up on telly.  Then he became a bit of punch line for the 90s and early 00s.  People either pretended they never liked him or laughed at his parodies, and wrote them off as cheap and hacky.  But in the last decade or so, he’s had a bit of a credibility renaissance.  As the childhood nerds of the 80s get more and more control over the comedy world, their nostalgic love for ‘Weird’ Al has given him a bit of a rebirth.  And one album a lot of those childhood nerds of the 80s revere, is his debut, In 3-D.

It opens with Eat it, his take on Michael Jackson’s Beat It, which is up there with I Lost on Jeopardy (also on In 3-D) and Like a Surgeon as the first ‘Weird’ Al songs I can remember hearing.  Like all of his faithful parodies, the musicality is so accurate and faithful to the original that his nasal vocals and little sound effect punch lines standout that much more.

The original songs on In 3-D take a little more listening to get into.  Midnight Star­ is a funny enough take on cheap National Enquirer style tabloids and Buy Me a Condo is a funny reggae song about a Rasta succumbing to the most mundane of everything America, like Tupperware parties and the music of Jackson Brown .

Yankovic is clearly a talented song writer and his band are great musicians, so I feel a little guilty about not loving the original songs as much as the parodies straight of the bat.  But not only do they not come with the familiar melodies and hooks of the parodies, the parodies also have another advantage.  Their titles themselves are usually a big part of the joke, so you can be immediately on board with the premise.

Over the years, Yankovic has recorded a few medleys of whatever songs are popular at the time, or that he just feels like including, in a polka collection.  This time it’s Polkas on 45 with nods to Devo, The Doors, The Beatles, Deep Purple, The Police, The Clash, The Who and others. No matter how many times he does these medleys or how many times I hear them, they never get old.

His spot on Fred Schneider impression on the B-52s inspired Mr Propiel shows the two vocalists are surprisingly similar.  And with Theme from Rocky VIII he takes a shot at Eye of the Tiger.  In 1984, three Rocky movies had been released, so ‘Weird Al’ probably thought that was a perfectly OK joke.  The fact that we’re now in a world with six movies in the Rocky franchise makes it funnier and strangely prescient all these decades later.

Of course, In 3-D does have the odd clunker though.  “Rye or the Kaiser” is borderline being the kind of lazy parody someone would come up with to take a shot Yankovic.

No one does what ‘Werd Al’ Yankovic does as well as ‘Werd Al’ Yankovic does what ‘Werd Al’ Yankovic does.  And with In 3-D ‘Werd Al’ Yankovic is doing what ‘Werd Al’ Yankovic does perfectly.

‘Weid Al’ Yankovic