Saturday, April 8, 2017

Dial Nine-Nine-Nine-Nine-Nine





The U.K. version of The Clash is the greatest rock and roll album ever manufactured anywhere partly because of its innocence is of a piece -- it never stops snarling, it's always threatening to blow up in your face. 

-Robert Christgau


On April 8, 1977 The Clash released their debut album in the UK, considered by many to be the greatest punk album ever released. American audiences had to wait until 1979 before CBS Records released a modified version of the album which exchanged some album cuts for mostly singles.




What comes through on my most recent listen is the snarling anger of the band and the musicality of Mick Jones's guitar. Spin's Alternative Record Guide calls The Clash a "truly frightening album, fast and trebly, with each song a distinct physical pleasure".


The MOJO Collection has a review that mentions how the receptionist at CBS Studios mistook the band for workmen because of their paint splattered clothes and that none of the group liked to be the first to arrive so each member would check in and then leave for an hour or two.

From this muddle of inexperience, ideological posturing and amphetamine overload, a magnificent record somehow emerged, one which distilled punk rock's intoxicating brew of anger, boredom and excitement better than any other.


Here's what Rolling Stone wrote in an issue proclaiming the album the 77th greatest in rock history :

"I haven't got any illusions about anything," Joe Strummer said. "Having said that, I still want to try to change things." That youthful ambition bursts through the Clash's debut, a machine-gun blast of songs about unemployment ("Career Opportunities"), race ("White Riot") and the Clash themselves ("Clash City Rockers"). Most of the guitar was played by Mick Jones, because Strummer considered studio technique insufficiently punk. The American release was delayed two years and replaced some of the U.K. tracks with recent singles, including "Complete Control" -- a complaint about exactly that sort of record-company shenanigans.


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