Friday, 15 June 2018

The Clash "Combat Rock” 1982 UK Punk,Post Punk,Funk


The Clash  "Combat Rock”  1982 UK Punk,Post Punk,Funk
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The final album by the Clash’s original Strummer/Jones incarnation is also their most inconsistent. There were musical and ideological rifts developing within the band, and it shows: the experimentation is almost as wild as Sandanista!’s (and the biggest experiment is heading away from their punk shiftiness and into a commercial rock sound), but they seem to be enjoying it less. The band’s stabs at funk and poetry aren’t terribly successful, but it all came together for two massive hits: “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” has the biggest, stupidest, most perfect riff this side of “Louie Louie,” and “Rock the Casbah” pulls the band’s politics, fine-honed sarcasm, and saw-toothed guitar sound into the service of a dance-floor beat. –Douglas Wolk….~


I recall being somewhat disappointed in this album when it came out it 1982. After all, I was 15 and had been left reeling from the unfathomably lengthy and musically diverse Sandinista. Unrealistically, I longed for some sort of return to the pithiness of London Calling. In fact, this album does return to the immediacy of their earlier sound, but with certain innovations reflecting their increasing musical maturity and lyrical savvy. 
First, the lyrics build on the depth of Sandinista’s political engagement. The profundity of Joe Strummer’s singing in “Ghetto Defendant” is simply not to be believed, and Allen Ginsburg’s poetry complements the lyrics perfectly. Other musical innovations include the subtle, yet moving synthesizer in “Sean Flynn” (compare this wonderful synthesizer sound to the rubbish to follow throughout the rest of the 80s and you get downright depressed), Topper Headon’s increasingly complex use of percussion (before he became a victim of “heroin pity”), and Mick Jones’ piano. Even “Rock the Casbah,” long derided as overly dance-influenced, reveals itself as predicting the North African rock- and reggae-inspired movement known as “rai”–an Arabic word meaning opinion, and whose importance the internationally-savvy Joe Strummer was certainly aware of. Was not the persecution suffered by many practitioners of this music–Cheb Hasni, murdered in 1994 by Algerian religious extremists, Khaled, forced to expatriation in Paris–foreseen by lyrics such as “By order of the prophet / We ban that boogie sound / Degenerate the faithful /With that crazy casbah sound”? Perhaps it is in the last track, “Death is a star,” that we realize the true greatness and musical genius of The Clash, with Joe and Mick singing in their trademark unison to the fading sounds of an improvised piano…by….P. Kelley….~


If you like the hits “Rock The Casbah” and “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” (and by the way, they ARE well worth the price of admission). 
If you don’t mind that most of the other tracks don’t sound much like those two hits. 
If you don’t mind odd song structure. 
If some spoken lines, rather than melodic singing, doesn’t bother you. 
If you read the lyrics, because many of the tracks seem meaningless unless you follow the lyrics. 
If you print the lyrics on paper, because the ones provided with the CD are practically unreadable without the Hubble telescope. 
If you are OK with social and political comment. 

If you don’t fit those qualifications, there is a good chance that you will not like this album. When I played it for the first time, I didn’t bother with lyrics, and afterwards I was sitting there saying “Wha???” But for the second play, I followed the lyrics, and I had an entirely different attitude. For some reason, a light came on! The band’s music, which at first seemed dull, came to life for me. I didn’t totally love it, but I found it interesting enough to explore, since I really like most 80’s music, particularly New Wave. The social/political aspect, expressed in an undisciplined, free-form way, is important to making sense of this album. The Clash was spawned by the punk movement which originated in England as a reaction to severe economic depression and social turmoil in the mid-70’s. This is their response, or reaction, to the issues of the times in which they were living…… Steven Haarala……~


Yeah, I’m showing my age. I had the record (yes record) from when it first came out, and it somehow got lost on one of my 5,000 moves. Most people do not rate this as high as some of the early Clash albums, but it gets my vote for 5 stars strictly on the basis of “Know Your Rights”, “Rock the Casbah”, and “Should I Stay or Should I Go”…..By Ratty……~

The band pose next to a swamp in Bangkok. Further out towards Bangkok’s new airport, these areas still exist and look the same as in this photo by  Pennie Smith

Joe Strummer kicks off The Clashâ€s 1982 album Combat Rock with this enthusiastic declaration, followed the song “Know Your Rights” which shows what The Clash do best–take in-your-face political lyrics and give them even more power with that taut, unbreakable pulse of rhythm section Paul Simonon and Topper Headon, supplemented with minor chord stabs from the guitars of Mick Jones and Joe Strummer. Itâ€s unfortunate that the group couldnâ€t keep up this level of energy throughout their last “proper” album, going out with a whimper with the “record that shall not be named” that came after the departure of Jones and Headon. 

On the surface, Combat Rock seems like a simple record, especially when placed in succession with the masterpiece double LP London Calling and the sprawling, spotty but undoubtedly ambitious triple LP Sandinista! Intended to be another double LP titled Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg, Combat Rockended up taking them back to the single LP format, for better and for worse. 

For better: It allows the essential and best songs to float to the top instead of sinking into the depths of a double or triple LP tracklist. Kickass songs like “Iâ€m Not Down” got buried on side D of London Calling, but Combat cuts right to the best stuff right off the bat. The hits, “Should I Stay Or Should I Go,” and “Rock the Casbah” are given the 3rd and 4th spots in the lineup, just like any good batting order. Buoyed by these singles, Combat Rock was The Clashâ€s biggest selling album, going all the way to #2 on the UK charts and landing at #7 in the US. “Straight to Hell,” the end of side A, is propelled by auxiliary bossa-nova inspired percussion and an insistent fiddle line floating over top. It shines light on forgotten people, like immigrants and the unemployed working classes, people that are forgotten by the rich and privileged. The classic song was given a second life by way of the prominent sample that M.I.A. used in her 2007 hit “Paper Planes.” Kicking off side B, “Overpowered By Funk” is an incredibly fun track, one of The Clashâ€s best dance tracks thanks in no small part to the sassy, squiggly synths played by Poly Mandell. While it points itself towards funk right in the title, the song is firmly entrenched in the emerging hip hop genre, which would take these strong grooves and sassy synthesizer lines and absorb them, with the addition of the bridge rapped by Futura 2000. 

For worse: Just as the great songs stand out more, so do the weak ones. Cut down from the originally planned 18 tracks, the 12 that remained still contained some clunkers. Side B has weak songs outnumbering the great ones. “Sean Flynn” meanders about without a care, its wobbly bass and fluttering flutes a remnant from the artsy misfires of Sandinista. “Ghetto Defendant” may seem more lyrically powerful with Allen Ginsburgâ€s poetry in there, but damn if I didnâ€t wish they had left that out and added more song to the damn track. “Inoculated City” attempts to save the side with Headonâ€s always-fantastic hi hat work giving an upbeat feel, but it doesnâ€t have the bite of their early punk days, or the joyous feel of London Callingâ€s uptempo numbers. It doesnâ€t go much of anywhere. “Death is a Star” ends the album with the ignorable piano of a fancy hotel lobby, rather than with the piss and vinegar The Clash I love provided in spades throughout their career. As my iTunes sends this track directly into “Safe European Home” to start off Give ‘Em Enough Rope, I decide to let it play rather than return to Combat. 
With all that said, Combat Rock has some of the best songs Clash ever put to tape, not to mention songs that likely introduced a whole new wave of people to the band thanks to the radio hits. Itâ€s essential in any Clash fanâ€s collection, but it also shows a band at odds with itself, and members wanting to do their own thing.  …..by..Greg …Punknews.org…..~

Another photo of the band taking a break in Bangkok  by  Pennie Smith

For rock’s last angry band, life at the top has not exactly been a left-wing luau. In Britain, where their only real crime has been falling out of fashion, the Clash is scorned by a cynical press drunk on funk and futurism, and by their own punk progeny, the Oi! bands, for selling out to Yankee commercial interests. At least that is how the group’s foes perceive the panmusical daring, global political concerns and mature thrash of the 1980 double album London Calling and last year’s six-sided Sandinista! 

Here in Reagan country, the Clash has had immortality thrust upon them. American critics hail them as rock’s articulate revolutionary conscience, while converted heavy-metal youngbloods see in the band’s maverick social stance and awesome stage firepower the Rolling Stones they never had. In short, the Clash is caught between their best intentions and a very hard place. 

But the message of Combat Rock — the Clash’s fifth album and a snarling, enraged, yet still musically ambitious collection of twelve tight tracks on a single disc — is pop hits and press accolades be damned. This record is a declaration of real-life emergency, a provocative, demanding document of classic punk anger, reflective questioning and nerve-wracking frustration. It is written in songwriter-guitarists Joe Strummer and Mick Jones’ now-familiar rock Esperanto, ranging from the locomotive disco steam of “Overpowered by Funk” and the frisky Bo Diddley strut of “Car Jamming” to the mutant-cabaret sway of the LP’s chilling coda, “Death Is the Star.” And like every Clash record from 1977’s “White Riot” on, it carries the magnum force of the group’s convictions in the bold rhythmic punch of bassist Paul Simonon and drummer Topper Headon and the guitar-army bash of Strummer and Jones. Yet Combat Rock’s overwhelming sense of impending doom suggests the Clash still have no pat answer to the age-old musical question: after sounding the alarm, what more can a rock & roll band do? 

That crisis of confidence only spurs the band on. A desperate spirit rings loud and clear in Strummer’s asthmatic coyote howl, “This is a public service announcement … with guita-a-h!,” which detonates the album’s opening salvo, “Know Your Rights.” Over Simonon and Headon’s martial crunch, and punctuated by Jones’ rubbery Duane Eddy-in-hell guitar break, Strummer tries satiric outrage on for size. “You have the right,” he spits, “to free speech/As long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it.” The joke gets a little lighter in “Rock the Casbah,” a smart-alecky, funk-inflected romp complete with snappy hook and spry party piano, about the banning of pop music by Moslem fundamentalists in Iran. But the meaning is clear. Having rights and exercising them are two different things. And replacing one oppressor with another does not a revolution make. 

It’s not surprising, then, that the Clash are so taken with outlaw ethics, marked here by “Sean Flynn” and “Red Angel Dragnet.” The former is an ambient jungle-rhythm exercise with a resonant Strummer vocal about the Vietnam War photographer and son of actor Errol Flynn who disappeared while riding his motorbike toward the DMZ. The latter celebrates New York subway vigilantes the Guardian Angels, with Headon and Simonon locking into a harrowing groove not unlike that of the Number Two IRT train (known in New York as “the Beast”) rumbling through the gutted South Bronx at four a.m. Then a voice steps in, praising the Angels’ underground crime watch. The Clash see in the Angels a mirror image, bucking the system in order to improve it. 

For the most part, Combat Rock is short on practical solutions and long on the horror of the problems. “Straight to Hell” contrasts a bouncy neocalypso beat and an almost pastoral synthesizer whine with a bitter Strummer indictment of the raw deal handed the boat people and other human fallout from the Indo-Chinese wars. In “Ghetto Defendant,” Strummer duets with Beat bard Allen Ginsberg over a spooky reggae dub track, trading images of apocalypse and drug addiction — “It is heroin pity/Not tear gas nor baton charge/That stops you from taking the city.” 

At the same-time, Combat Rock is stirring, inspirational rock & roll, arranged with good pop sense and shot through in concentrated doses with the imagination and vigor that were spread throughout Sandinista! If the words don’t carry you, then the manic dance fever of “Overpowered by Funk” (a rap by graffiti artist Futura 2000) and Mick Jones’ strident punch-up, “Should I Stay or Go Now” (a guitar-driven raver à la “Train in Vain”) certainly will. Because above all else, Combat Rock is an album of fight songs. Whereas most of the false prophets and nonstop complainers washed up by the New Wave await a brave new world, the Clash are battling tooth, nail and guitar to salvage the one we’ve got, in the only way they know. Combat Rock may not have the answers, but it may be our last warning: sign up or shut up…..By David Fricke…..Rolling Stone….~

Another shot by Pennie Smith of the band on the railway line in Bangkok

Take a quick glance at the Clash’s 1982 album Combat Rock and you’ll see photographer Pennie Smith’s image of four men standing together, just off the rails. Perhaps coincidentally, that’s also where they stood, figuratively, as a band. 
After releasing the triple-LP Sandinista! in 1980, a political and multicultural album that also made many critics’ lists of year-end bests, they toured and rested through much of 1981 before going back to the studio — first in London, and then back to New York’s Electric Lady Studio where they had recorded Sandinista!. The triple album was considered a disappointment at home in the U.K., but charted even better than their landmark album London Calling in the U.S. 
By January 1982, after they finished recording 18 tracks for what would become Combat Rock, and hit the road again for the six-week Far East tour of Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Thailand. 
But during the recording sessions, tensions were high. Frontman and co-founder Joe Strummer felt the band was drifting apart creatively, and he and co-founder Mick Jones, in particular, had been at odds over the direction of the record. In his Rolling Stone review of the album, David Fricke wrote, “Combat Rock is an album of fight songs,” as its name suggests. 
With a collection of songs that are ostensibly about the impact of the Vietnam War — having been influenced by Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film Apocalypse Now, Pat Gilbert, author of Passion Is the Fashion: The Real Story of the Clash, wrote, “The Clash, it seemed, had acquired the knack of writing ugly truths about America with a directness white American songwriters didn’t then dare, and wouldn’t manage to do as boldly until [Bruce] Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. two years later.” 
But many of its songs could arguably double as more personal tales, particularly Jones’ “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” So while that image of four pals seemingly on track for a long, acclaimed run as punk kings, it also foreshadowed their end. The photo shoot from which the cover image was drawn took place on a Petchaburi Road railway line in Thailand at the end of that Far East tour, where illness and debauchery began to take over. Due to a variety of circumstances, the band decided to take a couple of weeks off in Bangkok after playing the infamous Thammasat University, where 100 students had been massacred six years earlier. 
Drummer Topper Headon’s heroin addiction flared, while bassist Paul Simonon contracted a tropical disease that left him hospitalized. Meanwhile, Jones went missing and Strummer drank at the local go-go bars. According to Bombed Out!, this may have been the band’s greatest misstep. 
“In Thailand we only did one gig, but ended up staying for two weeks after Paul got ill,” Jones later said, according to the site. “It was on the photo shoot for the Combat Rock cover, and Paul jumped in what he thought was a puddle but was actually some kind of black mud with loads of flies in it.” 

Soon, Headon was fired and replaced with the band’s original drummer Terry Chimes, though he has since come to terms with the turn of events, following a long struggle with drugs. 
“Joe wouldn’t have sacked me if I hadn’t been a raving heroin addict, trashing hotel rooms, throwing up, late for rehearsals. He had no choice… I was in a state,“ Headon said. "We were kids … It was the best thing that could have happened. We made all that fantastic music and then imploded at the top.” 
But following the Far East tour, they returned to the studio to listen to what they had recorded. Having already released London Calling and Sandinista!, they wrestled with whether the 18 tracks could form another multi-LP package. 
Jones fought for a double-LP with longer, more dance-friendly songs and had already mixed the first version of the album, initially known as Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg. The rest of the band, especially Strummer, favored a single-LP with shorter mixes. Manager Bernie Rhodes, whose re-hiring had already been a point of contention between the band’s two creative forces, suggested tapping Glyn Johns, who had worked with the Rolling Stones, the Who and Led Zeppelin, to remix the album. Along with Strummer and Jones, he cut the 77-minute double album down to a 46-minute single. Songs were omitted, making it a 12-track record, and individual tracks were trimmed. 
But Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg is a highly sought after bootleg, and is still considered one of the best albums that never was. Fans have circulated several unofficial versions of it over the years. 
“Mick was intolerable to work with by this time,” the late Strummer remembered in the Clash documentary, Westway to the World. “He wouldn’t show up. When he did show up, it was like Elizabeth Taylor in a filthy mood.” Jones later regretted his behavior. “I was just carried away really, I wish I had a bit more control,” he reflected. “You know, you wish you knew what you know now.” 
Despite the album boasting two hit singles, "Should I Stay or Should I Go” and “Rock the Casbah,” Strummer and Simonon decided to fire Jones, too. The next year, Jones formed Big Audio Dynamite, and the Clash hired guitarists Vince White and Nick Sheppard in his stead. 
Their next album Cut the Crap received exceptionally poor reviews, and Strummer and Simonon disavowed the album as part of the band’s discography. By 1986, the Clash disbanded. 
It was announced in 2002 that the Clash would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the following year. Strummer, Jones and Headon wanted to play a reunion show to coincide with their induction, while Simonon bowed out, feeling it wasn’t in the spirit of the old band. But it was never to be, after Strummer died unexpectedly of a congenital heart disease in December 2002……DEBRA FILCMAN…..Diffuser…..~

Bob Gruen The Clash, 1978

Joe Strummer above a Thai Pepsi sign in Bangkok in 1982   Pennie Smith

In 1982 there wasn’t another band in the world that could unite West Texas troubadour Joe Ely, New York graffiti artist Futura 2000, and Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. That those are the three prominent guest musicians on Combat Rock says a lot about the Clash — about their eclectic interests and their stature not just in the music world, but within world culture at large. The Clash’s final album to feature the classic lineup, Combat Rock is at once their most basic rock album, and the most bizarre. The Clash had to go through a lot to be able to write a riff as simple and memorable as “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” “Rock the Casbah,” on the other hand, is one of the most effortlessly complex dance songs to ever top the charts. The rest of the album is thornier. “Overpowered by Funk,” “Car Jamming,” and “Sean Flynn” are even more out there than the songs on Sandinista!. “Inoculated City” is one of Mick Jones’ most underrated pop songs, but it is Joe Strummer’s “Straight To Hell” that ends Combat Rock, and the Clash’s career, with elegiac grace…..~


In a nutshell, Combat Rock is Sandinista! filtered through a third-party (producer Glyn Johns). If Mick Jones had his way, Combat Rock (or, Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg) would have spun for sixty-five minutes over 2 two LPs, and would have contained seventeen songs. As part of the complicated undoing of the Clash, Joe Strummer panned Mick’s vision and we ended up with the Combat Rock we ended up with. 

So credit to Glyn Johns, I say. One Sandinista! is a blessing, but two may have been back-breaker for John and Jane Listener. As it is, Combat Rock (named in response to the Falklands War) is a good balance of the experimental side of the Clash, the political side of the Clash, the humourous side of the Clash, and the rockstar side of the Clash. Some of Joe’s most biting lyrics (“Soap floods oil in water / All churn in the wake / On the great ship of progress / The crew can’t find the brake” regarding the conspiracy theory that the government uses heroin to thin out the ghetto) and most sinister inside jokes (“Now the king told the boogie men / You have to let that raga drop” directed at Bernie Rhodes) can be found in all this sonic bewilderment. Topper Headon’s last shining moment as a Clash member is here (he wrote the music for “Rock the Casbah”), and the two heads of the Clash each have a defining moment captured on tape: “Should I Stay or Should I Go” for Mick (with Joe snarling his weirdo-Spanish blend in the background) and “Straight To Hell” for Joe (although Mick wrote the music, Joe beating the bass drum with an R. White lemonade bottle wrapped in a towel - at Topper’s suggestion - is one of those Rock & Roll Moments you have to capitalize). 

Like all Clash albums, you have to be able to shift through all the bullshit from both sides of the fence if you’re going to ever discover what the album means to you. Just remember, “Punk” was never a “sound” to the Clash as much as it was the rallying cry for getting things done - something they always pushed. Get at ‘er…..by….Kevvy…..~


As I walked into a local secondhand store, I rummaged through the usual stuff they had. Nothing special, in other words. I go to their cassette section, where you can pick up four of 'em for a buck. Looking through, I am finding nothing overly amazing (its cassettes, what do you expect?). All of a sudden, the next thing I see is a copy of Combat Rock by The Clash. I immediately picked that sucker up, laid down my 25 cents (kinda pitiful, it was all I bought that day), and got the hell out of there. Already outside the store I was jamming in my head to “Rock the Casbah” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”. I was hyped, to say the least. 

Now when I got home and tried to play the thing, I realized something was wrong. There was an incessent screeching sound throughout, rendering the cassette nearly unplayable. I came to the conclusion that the tape was rubbing against the copper colored piece inside the cassette (it was missing that cushion piece). My genius idea was to push that piece down so the tape would not rub against it anymore. Lo and behold. my plan was a success, the tape played fine! 

For the following week, the thing was my life. I started bragging to everybody about jamming to my 25 cent cassette of Combat Rock. Last night however, that would change. I went to play the cassette AGAIN, only this time, the tape got eaten up on the first song (“Know Your Rights”). As I went to wind the tape back into place, I saw it had these weird white streaks on the tape, and it was crinkled too. In other words, the first half of “Know Your Rights” was no more. A tragedy, as that song kicks major ass. Oh well, screw it, I got my enjoyment out of the cassette anyways. It will now stand as an artifact of the best 25 cents I ever spent in my life. 

As for the album, I’ll try to make this quick. The first side is just about perfect, from the rocking “Know Your Rights” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”, to the incessently catchy new wave of the incredible “Rock the Casbah”. The two more experimental tracks “Car Jamming” and “Red Angel Dragnet” ('hands up for Hollywood! Horray!) are great too. Then there is the side one closer, the haunting, somber beauty of “Straight to Hell”. Just listen to that percussion…Side 2 is much different, alot more experimental. From the pumping funk of “Overpowered to Funk” to the straight up weirdness of “Sean Flynn” (AWESOME sounding bass), Ghetto Defendant (featuring Allen Ginsberg) and the closer “Death Is a Star” (somewhat beautiful actually). “Inoculated City” is a great pop song, and “Atom Tan” rocks. In other words, Combat Rock owns. Under-rated, and certainly worth 25 cents. ….by….oldguywithsticks92 ……~ 


It’s easy to damn Combat Rock with faint praise. It was intended as a double album but after the commercial failure of Sandinista!, CBS brought in Glyn Jones and the editing process began. Trimmed to 12 tracks and powered by two hit singles (Topper Headon’s Rock The Casbah – No.6 in the US – and Mick Jones’s Should I Stay Or Should I Go, top 20 in both US and UK), it became the band’s best-selling album. 
So, yeah, it’s ‘the commercial album’ – the one for fair-weather fans. But as hit albums go, it’s pretty fucking weird. For starters it opens with ‘a public service announcement – with guitars’: Know Your Rights, a song without melody or a chorus, that suggests we only have three fundamental rights – and they’re all a bag of shit too. (How did that sentiment go down in Titfuck, Texas?) Elsewhere, Red Angel Dragnet lets tone-deaf bassist Paul Simonon loose on vocals for a demented Taxi-Driver-inspired punk funk patience-tester while Allen Ginsberg intones random bollocks/garbled poetry over Ghetto Defendant. 
When it comes to crowd-pleasing commerciality, it’s fair to say that Combat Rock is not exactly Bat Out Of Hell. 
Even at its straightest – on Car Jamming, Inoculated City and Atom Tan – the band sound like they’re dicking around. And while each of those songs could be described as whimsical and throwaway, the sheer fun they’re having is infectious. And then there’s the hits. Should I Stay Or Should I Go? commits several punk rock crimes: 

i) It was a hit. 

ii) It really is The Clash finally turning into the Stones, just like all their critics said they would. 

iii) It’s a love/heartbreak song. You know: one of those songs they said they’d never write. 

iv) It fits seamlessly on both dad rock compilations and classic rock radio station playlists. 

All true, of course, but still: Should I Stay…? isn’t quite the cliched Bryan Adams, rock-lite its critics claim it is. Mick’s thinly-veiled resignation letter is the Stones-go-rockabilly (with a stop-start riff that maybe owes something to Sophistication by Sharks) and is enlivened considerably by Strummer’s nonsensical Spanish backing vocals. 

And then there’s Rock The Casbah – Topper’s virtuoso moment – a genuine dance-floor filler that took into the US top ten but, 30-odd years later, is as ubiquitous as Come On Eileen or Tainted Love: one of a unique group of 80s anthems that loom so large they MUST be played at every 50th birthday party and second wedding reception. 

Meanwhile the connoisseurs wallow in Sean Flynn, an eerie tropical jazz-dub track about Errol Flynn’s son (a celebrated war photographer who went missing in Vietnam) that would’ve fitted perfectly on Sandinista!, and the undisputed highlight, Straight To Hell, a lyrical tour de force – a hymn to the plight of immigrants everywhere – set to an elegiac throb and a rhythm that’s “basically bossa nova,” according to Headon. Tender, compassionate, surreal, playful, there is no other song quite like it. 

Combat Rock is all the evidence you need to see why The Clash could never have had the success of U2 or The Police. They were just too damn contrary……By Scott Rowley …..~


This was intended to be a double album entitled 'Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg’. The rest of the band dismissed it, and called in producer Glyn Johns to cut it down to size for a single LP. All songs became shorter, and a lot tighter, with more pronounced vocals, a much 'tighter’ mix musically, and less vague sound effects and extended rapping. Also, four tracks (Cool Confusion, First Night Back In London, Beautiful People and Kill Time) were cut. Overall, all the songs sound very similar to each other, with a significant emphasise on studio sound effects. The whole thing also has a 'muggy’ sound to it, if you know what I mean. Sort of slightly muffled, like sounding as if it was coming from under a thick blanket. 

Track seven from Combat Rock, Overpowered By Funk, is not present here and was apparently added to Combat Rock at the last minute (an instrumental version exists on Clash On Broadway Outtakes and an extended remix is on Golden Bullets). Each song varies in some way to the official ones on Combat Rock, so here is a track by track review: 

Know Your Rights 
This is a basic but extended version, and seems to be a bit slower. Joe is talking rather than singing and the lyrics are different in places. Know Your Rights has a few incarnations besides the official one. This being one, and another one is on Clash On Broadway Outtakes. This is a good version of the song, and in ways works better, with the message of the song being delivered more effectively by Joe’s voice. 

Car Jamming 
Again, this is a more basic version but is very similar to the official one. There are extra sound effects in places and it’s extended. 

Rock The Casbah 
Different intro, then once it kicks in it is very similar to the official album version. There’s extra sound effects in places and it’s also maybe a touch slower. 

Red Angel Dragnet 
Paul’s vocals seem a bit more present in the song as the volume of the music is lower. Some instrumentation found in the offical version is increased in volume a little - such as the electronic organ effect. Also, there is some faint talking in the background, possibly Joe? There are also extra background vocals from Joe and Mick. Towards the end, there are extra lyrics, as this is an extended version. 

Should I Stay Or Should I Go 
Lots of Spanish dialogue at times, along with extra vocals, possibly just Mick’s dubbed over twice. Also some extra vocals from Joe it sounds like. Extended, and with extra instrumentation, including brass? 

Ghetto Defendant 
Allen Ginsberg’s lead vocals are different at times, and sometimes appear in a different place to where they do in the official version. There is extra instrumentation. Joe’s singing is also very different. The lyrics in the song are different, and this is an extended version. It also fades off quite nicely at the end. 

Straight To Hell 
This is the same as the official unedited version found on Clash On Broadway disc 3. An extended mix, slightly altered drum effect, also fades away nicely at the end. 

Inoculated City 
A more pronounced opening that works well. An extended version, with extra vocals that again just sounds like Mick’s dubbed on twice. In this song in particular there are studio sound effects not found in the official version. The toilet cleaner ad - '2000 Flushes’ - (with the American housewife) is a bit longer too. This is a better version of this song (the official one is too short really) and the extended playing is welcome. There’s also faint voices, chatter and laughing in the background at times, which get louder as the song nears its end. 

Atom Tan 
Seems a touch slower, and has slightly different lyrics in places but otherwise is very similar to the official version. 

Cool Confusion 
Same as the version on Super Black Market Clash and Clash On Broadway disc 3. Here it cuts off a second or so too soon though. This song is mostly made up of sound effects and strange, but effective vocals. (An alternate mix of this song can be found on the D.O.A. compilation.) 

Sean Flynn 
A different, and quite spooky, intro to this song, then it kicks in as normal. The sound quality throughout this song varies a bit - there is the odd drop out. Some instrumentation is more pronounced and there are extra sound effects. An extended version but on the whole very similar to the official one. This is a welcome track - Sean Flynn is an excellent song and this version lasts nearly 8 minutes. 

Death Is A Star 
Very similar to the official version, just some extra lyrics and talking in places. It’s clever how, as in the official version as well, Mick and Joe’s voices unnoticeably blend into each other at the beginning and throughout. 

First Night Back In London 
As with Cool Confusion, this is the same as the official version and appears on Super Black Market Clash. It’s obvious this song came from this mix, with the big emphasis on sound effects and that particular drumming sound and style. 

The Beautiful People Are Ugly Too 
A great song, and it’s good to have it here with very good sound quality. I especially like the tune to this song, it’s very catchy, and Joe and Mick’s singing on it works very well. In keeping with the style of the rest of the album, there are the familiar sound effects. This was also known as 'Fulham Connection W11’, and has also been known as 'Man In A Box’. 

Kill Time 
Again, a great song. Very reggae styled (true to Clash form). Also, excellent sound quality which is very welcome from an unreleased studio track. Good to have a complete version of it as well, as it appears on Pier Pressure but is cut short and misses out a drumbeat or two in the intro and is missing quite a bit near the end. The Pier Pressure version also uses a vinyl as its source, whereas this does not. Sometimes known as (Licence To) Kill Time and 'Idle In the Kangaroo Court’ which was the song’s working title. 

It’s a great shame official releases of Beautiful People and Kill Time haven’t appeared. They should have made it onto the Clash On Broadway boxset (the Straight To Hell unedited version is there) in favour of material that was already available anyway. Other unreleased tracks made it (such as One Emotion) so why not these? If not then, they should almost certainly have made it onto Super Black Market Clash, along with Cool Confusion and First Night Back In London from the very same mix. 

Overall, the sound quality is a bit dulled and there is background hiss present all the time (but it’s only really noticeable in between songs). However, it is still very good, and the quality of some of the tracks, particularly the last two funnily enough, is excellent. The songs are interesting alternatives and make an enjoyable listen. Extended versions are welcome for some of these classic Clash songs……~


On the surface of things, 'Combat Rock’ appears to be a retreat from the sprawling stylistic explorations of 'London Calling’ and 'Sandinista!’. The pounding arena rock of “Should I Stay or Should I Go” makes The Clash sound like an arena rock band, and much of the album boasts a muscular, heavy sound courtesy of producer Glyn Johns. 

'Combat Rock’ contains heavy flirtations with rap, funk, and reggae, and it even has a cameo by poet Allen Ginsberg! If this album is, as it has often been claimed, the Clash’s “sell-out effort”, it’s a very strange way to sell out. Even with the infectious, dance-inflected new wave pop of “Rock the Casbah” leading the way, there aren’t many overt attempts at crossover success, mainly because the group is tearing in two separate directions. 

Mick Jones wants the Clash to inherit the Who’s righteous arena rock stance, and Joe Strummer wants to forge ahead into black music. The result is an album that is nearly as inconsistent as 'Sandinista!’, even though its finest moments, “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” “Rock the Casbah” and “Straight to Hell”, illustrate why the Clash were able to reach a larger audience than ever before with the record…….~


As most folk on here already know… I’m not daft on tribute bands, I do occasionally enjoy them… Most of the time I’m disappointed. Anyway the first time I saw Combat Rock was maybe (I’m guessing) 15 years ago and I didn’t know what to make of them, which is nothing unusual as that’s my reaction pretty much every time I see a tribute band. I also saw them about 3 or 4 years ago and thought they were OK! (they had a stand-in that night). I thought some of the songs were excellent and some were poor. So a bit mixed. 

Here is the but….. But the last twice I’ve seen them they have been off the scale fantastic!!!!! And I really mean Fantastic!!!!! They have added brass and keyboards which makes them stand out from the rest. Their version of one of my fave Clash songs Straight To Hell is something to see I’ll tell ya… Any Clash tribute can do Janie Jones, Garageland and White Riot etc etc… These fuckers are doing Jimmy Jazz, Rudie Can’t Fail, Train In Vain and Rock The Casbah, the full monty… “It ain’t Coca Cola it’s rice…” 

So if you get the chance to see them, do it, go see 'em! If you book tributes? Fucking book them! They are excellent at what they do… ~


The unhappy stuff I’m going to go to this stack is almost freaked out when I pick up the first cd in my hand. Are you releasing a yenchiver! Sacrilege! Originally, this US edition appeared only after Give 'em Enough Rope and the American record company had dropped out four songs, including spectacular Deny and 48 Hours. Five subsequent singles were put in the room, and the band order was messed up. I’ve been quoted by White Man In Hammersmith Palais and Bobby Fueller Four from I Fought The Law some good songs, but the whole thing is no longer soundly intact and some of Clash’s direct rage is left unmoved. The original vinyl record is one of the world’s best debuts and would have merely earned five stars, but this… Sure, Joe Strummer’s song is full of emotion, Mick Jones’s guitar is able to light up the London fire and the individual songs work like this: Garageland tastes like honey, Janie Jones rocks in kyb and White Riot rages fiercely. The whole thing is just not a dynamic - pity. Give 'em Enough Rope is an intermediate. It is still featuring the discourse of the first album - especially in the texts - but also the indications of the future. Clashia has, in the early days, been accused of lyrical naivist politics, but the lyrics are still true to this day’s skids. Things are said to be just as black and white as they can say about the twenties. They are cynical middle-aged critics with the big K, from whom the grip on life is already in the brink, which is forced to show their superiority by burning burning people. Toki Give 'em featured a few great hits, including Safe European Home and Tommy Gun, but also some Drugstabbing Time, and above all, ideas that only turned to diamonds on the next album. 
London Calling has regularly spotted top stars in all sorts of world’s best recordings, and not in vain. Four Strummer - Jones - Simonon - Headon has become so neat as a whole that they need to cheer on Kyllöns overgirls. Tuplan (one CD on one disc) of the nineteen songs are all stuff. The London Calling, which opens the game, continues to sparkle on the back. Jimmy Jazz throws the Bebop influences into the game, but still sits in the brilliant overall. Lost In The Supermarket is my personal favorite, not least of Jones’s earnings. Guns Of Brixton are Clash’s reggae influences at their best. Simply perfect disc with the world’s most powerful deck. 
The reason why Sandin was originally published as a triple sheet is the more wonderful explanations. One of the nicest things is that Clash thought he was able to acknowledge three of his long contracts for CBS, but they were so stupid. I personally believe that popularity simply came to the hat and the guys thought themselves to be all-powerful. Perhaps Topper’s screaming drug problem hit her stamp. Maybe too hard work. 
In any case, the album is an incomprehensible collection of different styles: funkya, Spector sounds, dubious, reggae, waltz, jazz and whatever. In the most popular rock bands, the band still works well, such as Police On My Back, Somebody Got Murdered and Up In The Heaven. The material on the disc would have received one decent disc, but the tuple would have filled the filler a lot and the triple disk, which is fit for two CDs, is simply strenuous - almost impossible - to listen to it all over. 
Combat Rock returned the band again to their tracks and raised it almost to the stage. In a way, the album is a transitional product. It would have been interesting to hear another Clash album; whether it became the big album of the stadium band. But in Combat Rock, the original Clash story came to an end: Topper lost the charts as a drug problem, Mick Jones kicked off the band, but picked up the biggest popularity with Big Audio Dynamite. Strummer & Jones came back with the novel Clash to the echo of the album and made a better Cut The Crap, which unfortunately has not been available for more than ten years. 
Combat Rock contains a couple of real pearls. Should I Stay Or Do I Go is an unimaginable simple but perhaps just so contagious. Rock The Casbah latest presentation yet another side of the Clash, tanssittavuuden. Straight To Hell’s stubborn insistence is great for listening. The unevenness of the material also exerts a hardness on the particle. 
Black Market Clash was originally a nine-song-sized mini-lp, basically singing b-sides and freebie songs from the early stages of the career - that is, material that was otherwise not easy to find. The album then also appeared as a standard lp, but I did not remember if it was already complete. This cd has at least been expanded to 21 songs. There is also a mix of great punk saws such as The Prisoner, but on the other hand, there are also embarrassing dance mixes, such as Mustapha Dance (originally called Rock The Casbah). An unquestionable fan material but an interesting album, which complements the Clash album brilliantly, unlike Singles, which in turn is just a cd-era single-sided publication. Even though the zodiac collection is, It is not Clash’s best of what was the Story Of The Clash cd, and not a complete cut into the band’s career. Many good songs and a few mediocre in chronological order. It’s a time of unnecessary curiosity, and in no case the disc that is about to start exploring Clash….  by….Jukka Junttila….~ 


For being “the only band that mattered,” The Clash has, in a strange paradox, been one of the more underrated bands associated with punk’s original wave. It seems that any album of theirs that isn’t their raw-and-rambunctious self-titled effort or the flawless double masterpiece London Calling is doomed to defend itself against mere oversight or worse, scornful disdain. In the ’80s, The Clash were bigger commercially than ever, but it was critics who, perhaps not surprisingly due to the punk ethos of “selling out,” turned the other cheek. 

This decade would see two fairly controversial releases from the band: the messy near-brilliance of the 1980 triple-album Sandinista! and the overground Top 40 successes that came in the wake of 1982′s Combat Rock. The latter, a short and rather succinct effort in comparison to Sandinista!‘s self-censorship-be-damned complex, is a surprisingly consistent and oft-bewildering statement-of-brevity, a far cry from the “sell out” so many punker-than-thou breast beaters proclaimed at the time. And for all the supposed controversy that came with a classic punk band hitting mass airwaves, both hit singles (“Should I Stay, Or Should I Go?” and “Rock The Casbah”) are brilliant pop songs, not only two of the strongest in the Clash’s catalog, but two of the ’80s’ most endearing hits. 

Elsewhere, we have the quasi-spoken word jams of “Red Angel Dragnet” and “Ghetto Defendant,” two the record’s most compelling, frustrating, and testing experiments. It’s “Straight To Hell” though that automatically takes Combat Rock to instant-classic status; a diatribe against soldiers in Vietnam that didn’t own up to children they fathered, the building percussion and Joe Strummer’s strained and mournful performance are incredibly moving in a way few musicians could ever hope to muster. And plus, any record that begins with a shout of “This is a public service announcement! With guitars!” deserves a place in your collection…..by Paul Haney…..~


The fifth album from the London punks was probably their most commercial, featuring the singles Rock The Casbah and Straight To Hell…..~


Recorded at Electric Lady Studios during the final few months of 1981, Combat Rock was the final record by The Clash with the classic lineup of Joe Stummer, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon, and Mick Jones…..~


I think there are few today who would argue that (ignoring Cut the Crap, as most seem to) The Clash went out on a strong note with 1982’s Combat Rock. To be honest, I was hoping that there would be a bit more of a lively debate on this one, but I guess by this point the punk purists had long been sifted out from the band’s fan base. There aren’t even any “White Dot!” warnings on “Rock the Casbah.” What I do enjoy on this record is that, despite the fact that there are only a few comments, they range from 1982 to 1993 to perhaps the early ’00s with a fresh-looking comment on the album’s legacy from “Abe.” 

Which raises the question: why aren’t more of the current DJs continuing the conversation on these records? I would love to start pulling records out and find new bright white labels on them with comments from the current KEXPers, especially if they’re picking fights with some of the long-gone regulars from days past. Come on, guys. Just because it’s 2011 doesn’t mean you have to relegate your snarky opinions and pithy wit to the Internet….By LEVI FULLER ……~


Combat Rock was an attempt to focus on visceral, accessible material, kidney-punching instead of bobbing and weaving. There’s an increased focus on funk here, as on the unlikely hit ‘Rock ….~


The fifth album by legendary British punk and rock band The Clash, Combat Rock is their de facto swan song, since both Mick Jones and Topper Headon were absent for 1985’s horrid and largely forgotten Cut The Crap. Not that Combat Rock is a perfect document, either. It’s one of the most top-heavy LPs ever released, with all of its singles and finest album tracks on side one. During the age of vinyl and cassettes, most listeners simply re-played the incredible string of six songs that open the record. “Know Your Rights” is among the best anti-authority songs ever, punk-fueled rockabilly single “Should I Stay or Should I Go” hit #45 in America and remains a rock radio staple, and ragga-tinged new wave anthem “Rock the Casbah” reached #8 on Billboard. Combat Rock’s first side closes with the magnificent, heady Viet Nam tale, “Straight to Hell,” perhaps The Clash’s greatest piece of artistry. Strewn among these classic cuts are worthy tracks “Car Jamming” and the Taxi Driver-referencing “Red Angel Dragnet.” While side two is disappointing in contrast, “Overpowered by Funk” is a compelling mixture of Bowie’s plastic funk and the skeletal tribalism of The Slits. “Atom Tan,” meanwhile, is hard-grooving rock 'n’ roll reminiscent of London Calling. Dubby numbers “Sean Flynn” and “Ghetto Defendant,” however, bear too much waste-oid kinship to side three of Sandinista!. The Clash rebound with the easily likeable “Inoculated City,” before going out with something of a whimper with “Death Is a Star.” However, the mild shortcomings of the last half of the album are more than compensated for by its stellar beginning. Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic, Combat Rock is essential listening….Michael Keefe…..Amoeba Review……~



Being labeled “The Only Band That Matters” would be enough pressure for most bands to live with, but The Clash earned it in their own right. Known for writing left wing anthems and even titling one of their albums Sandinista! (celebrating the left-wing rebels who had recently overthrown Nicaraguan despot Anastasio Somoza Debayle), the Clash continued to write politically charged songs on Combat Rock, most notably Straight to Hell, which was sampled by M.I.A. for her song “Paper Planes”. Politics aside, Combat Rock is actually my favorite Clash record. London Calling gets all the attention, as it should because it has some of the best songs they have ever written, not to mention that cool Elvis inspired cover with Paul smashing his bass guitar, but song for song I have always liked Combat Rock best. Sometimes jangly, sometimes soaring, Combat Rock represents The Clash when they were at the peak of their songwriting abilities. Unafraid to let the music speak for itself, they moved away from the shorter punk and pop rock and experimented writing longer songs, without losing touch of their punk and reggae roots. Ghetto Defendant features Allen Ginsberg speaking poetry while Joe Strummer sings political verses over Paul Simonon’s dub-inspired bass. While The Clash might be labeled The Only Band That Matters for their political ideology, they are the only band that matters to me for writing some of the best music to come out of the 20th century, even inspiring bands who are still sampling their music 30 years on…..By Randy Nieto….the minimal beat….~


Let’s talk about the Clash and their best-selling album of all time – “Combat Rock”. A sell-out or not, “Combat Rock” could easily find its place among some of the most exciting punk rock albums of all time. Not only in happens to be the final record by the Clash’s original line-up but it also best illustrates the band’s versatile talents and eagerness to experiment and take chances. The truly intriguing aspects of “Combat Rock” are The Clash’s provoking efforts to incorporate reggae, funk and rap into their heavy punk sound. 

With “Combat Rock”, the Clash seemingly takes a step back from their previous expressive efforts we can witness in “London Calling” and “Sandinista!”. However, we still get to experience a quite delightful inconsistency and interesting mess that this pure avant-garde selection of punk rock tunes offers us. 

Without doubt, the finest moments of the record have to be “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and “Rock the Casbah”. I say finest because those simple and hooking ultimate punk rock anthems became the absolute winning hand for the Clash and this record. With the foolish but fantastic rhythm of “Should I Stay or Should I Go” the Clash dominated the radio waves and is still probably their most instantly-recognizable tune. “Rock the Casbah”, on the other hand, brings us some solid new wave, dance vibes. “Know Your Rights” and “Death Is A Star” are songs that impress with strong, fighting words, though “Death Is A Star” is one of those songs which makes us question ourselves whether we are listening to the Clash or it’s a completely different band – it just sounds too bizarre. “Car Jamming” and “Ghetto Defendant” are more dynamic and bass-oriented tunes that give us this good old nice chilling out effect. “Straight To Hell” has to be the most unforgettable song of the album due to its haunting and strange, even a bit uncomfortable atmosphere it creates. “Overpowered by Funk” sounds very out of place but then again, the album’s aim is the opposite of providing us with a consistent feeling. On the contrary, if you want to get rid of your boredom and have fun, this is the album for you. 

Overall, inconsistency might be a good thing when it’s done in the right way and with the right proportion of experimentation and variety. “Combat Rock” is too strange, too wild and too distressing. However, after all, we are talking about the Clash and they can never be anything else than that. Many critics slammed this record and even pointed it as the band’s biggest selling out effort. Regardless, with this album, the band managed to reach a much larger audience and leave a much greater impression which, if you ask me, speaks volumes. 

Cheers!……by….BY VELINA …..~ 











Band Members: 
Joe Strummer - Vocals & Rythym Guitar 
Mick Jones - Vocals & Lead Guitar 
Paul Simonon - Bass Guitar & Vocals 
Topper Headon - Drums

Credits 
Backing Vocals – Allen Ginsberg, Ellen Foley, Futura 2000, Joe Ely 
Mastered By – Ray Janos 
Mixed By – Glyn Johns 
Photography By – Pennie Smith 
Recorded By – Jerry Green, Joe Blaney 
Written-By – The Clash 


Tracklist 
Know Your Rights
Car Jamming
Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Rock The Casbah
Red Angel Dragnet
Straight To Hell
Overpowered By Funk
Atom Tan
Sean Flynn
Ghetto Defendant
Inoculated City
Death Is A Star

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