The Clash

The Clash was a British punk rock group that existed from 1976 to 1985. One of the most critically lauded bands of their period, The Clash was noted for being musically far-reaching (they incorporated reggae, roots rock, and eventually many other music styles into their repertoire), for displaying a political and lyrical sophistication that distinguished them from most of their colleagues in the punk movement, and for uncommonly intense stage performances. They are considered as one of the most influential and best-known punk acts in the world. Besides contemporary American punk outfits like Green Day, Blink 182 and The Offspring, which cite The Clash as a major influence, alternative rock seminal bands like U2, the Cure and R.E.M. borrow much from The Clash. The influence of The Clash also can be found through the 1990s British music of the Britpop movement, whose revolutionary looks and big and catchy hooks are influenced by their music.

Line up and early days

Originally composed of Joe Strummer (b. John Graham Mellor in 1952) (vocals, rhythm guitar), Mick Jones (vocals, lead guitar), Paul Simonon (b. 1955) (bass and vocals), Keith Levene (lead guitar) Terry Chimes (credited on the first LP as "Tory Crimes") (drums), the Clash formed in London in 1976 during the first wave of British punk. Keith Levene (later of Public Image Limited) was an early guitarist and songwriter with The Clash, but he never recorded with the band and left in ambiguous circumstances after 5 gigs. Strummer had previously been in the pub rock act The 101ers (his first stage name at this point was Woody Mellor, branding himself "Joe Strummer" during this period), and Jones and Simonon (briefly) in legendary proto-punk band London SS. At the behest of manager Bernie Rhodes, Jones, Levene and Simonon recruited Strummer from the 101ers ("You're all right," they told him, "but your band's crap." Rhodes then allegedly gave Strummer 48 hours to sign on, but called him wanting an answer in 24). And so the Clash—name supplied by Simonon after seeing the word in all the newspapers—came to be.

Cover of The Clash

Following the release of their first album, Chimes was replaced with longtime drummer Topper Headon (b. Nick Headon). The musically gifted Headon was planning to stay only briefly. Instead he remained with The Clash until late 1982 – present for most of the band's career.

Their first gig was in 1976 supporting The Sex Pistols, and that autumn the band were signed to CBS Records. They released their first single ("White Riot") and first album (The Clash) in 1977 to considerable success in the UK, though CBS initially declined to release either in the United States, only releasing a modified version of the first album in the US after the UK original had been a bestselling import for two years.

Initially The Clash were notable for their strident leftist political outlook and distinctive clothes that they painted with revolutionary slogans ("Sten Guns in Knightsbridge" "Under Heavy Manners"). Throughout 1977, Joe Strummer and Mick Jones were in and out of jail for a range of minor crimes, ranging from vandalism to stealing a pillowcase, while Simonon and Headon were arrested for shooting racing pigeons with an air gun.

Their next album, the Sandy Pearlman-produced Give 'Em Enough Rope, was the first to feature Topper Headon on all cuts. Pearlman was amazed by Headon's impressive timing and musical skills and thus christened him "The Human Drum Machine". 'Rope' was released in 1978 and debuted at number two on the British charts, but failed to crack the top 100 in the world's largest music market, the United States.

Politics

Cover of Give 'Em Enough Rope

Like many early punk bands, The Clash protested against the monarchy and the aristocracy in the U.K. and around the world. Unlike many early punk bands, however, The Clash rejected the overall sentiment of nihilism and anarchy. Instead, they found solidarity with a number of liberation movements going on at the time. Their politics were expressed explicity in their lyrics, in early recordings such as "White Riot," which encouraged disaffected white youths to become politically active like their black counterparts, "Career Opportunities," which expressed discontent over the lack of jobs in the U.K., and "London's Burning", which expressed punk rage, but was at the same time downright analytical.

In one instance in 1978, at a Rock Against Racism show, organized by the Anti-Nazi League, Joe Strummer wore a controversial t-shirt bearing the words "Brigate-Rosse" with the Red Army Faction (Baader-Meinhof) insignia in the middle. He later said in an interview that he wore the shirt not to support the left-wing terrorists factions in Germany and Italy, rather to bring attention to their existence. Still, he felt bad after the show, prompting him to write the song "Tommy Gun," renouncing violence as a means of protest.

The Clash offered some support to the IRA and the PLO, and later, the Sandinista and other Marxist movements in Latin America (hence the title of their 1981 album, Sandinista!). They were involved directly with the controversial Anti-Nazi League and Rock Against Racism. By the time of the December 1979 album London Calling, the Clash (like the Dead Kennedys in the U.S.) were trying to square the circle of maintaining punk energy while developing increasingly musicianly chops. They were especially wary of their own emerging stardom: they always welcomed fans backstage after shows and showed genuine interest and compassion in their relationships with them.

The title of London Calling evokes American radio newsman Edward R. Murrow's catchphrase during World War II, and the title song announces that "...war is declared and battle come down..." It warns against expecting them to be saviours — "... now don't look to us / Phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust..." — draws a bleak picture of the times — "The ice age is coming, the sun's zooming in / Engines stop running, the wheat is growing thin" — but calls on their listeners to come out of their drugged stupor and take up the fight without constantly looking to London, or to The Clash themselves, for cues — "Forget it, brother, we can go it alone... Quit holding out and draw another breath... I don't wanna shout / But while we were talking I saw you nodding out..." — finally asking, "After all this, won't you give me a smile?"

The Clash are generally credited with founding the roots of punk rock in liberal protest, and were known as the "Thinking Man's Yobs" by many for their politically astute take on the world.

US success

Cover of London Calling

Give 'em Enough Rope was the first Clash album to be released by a US label (though the UK release of the first album was a bestselling import in the US), and to support it the Clash went on their first tour of the US in early 1979. Their first album did not see an official release in the US until July 1979, then in a drastically revised form from the version that was released elsewhere. This included a roaring version of Bobby Fuller's I Fought The Law (originally from their Cost Of Living EP).

The band's critical and commercial breakthrough in the US came with London Calling, a double album released in January 1980 for the price of a single album (at the band's insistence). Besides straightforward punk, it featured a much wider array of styles than the earlier albums, including American-style rockabilly and reggae works that resonated with the ska movement in Britain. The album is considered a landmark, and tracks such as "Train in Vain", "Clampdown" and "London Calling" show up with regularity on rock stations to this day.

Cover of Sandinista!

The Clash followed London Calling with a triple album (released for the price of a double album) in late 1980, entitled Sandinista! (with the catalog number FSLN1, from the Spanish initials of the Sandinista political movement, Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional). The results were mixed, as the band continued their experimentation into reggae and dub ("Let's Go Crazy") and expanded into other musical styles and production techniques that included jazz ("Look Here"), hip hop ("The Magnificent Seven"), chamber music ("Rebel Waltz"), vocals by keyboard player Micky Gallagher's young son, and "Mensforth Hill," a tape loop collage similar to The Beatles Revolution No 9.

Fans were confused and sales were down, although they were better in the US than previously. Following the release of Sandinista!, The Clash went on their first world tour including venues in eastern Asia and Australia.

In 1982, The Clash returned with the best-selling of all their albums, Combat Rock. Featuring the singles "Rock the Casbah" and "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" it broke into the American Top Ten, and did the same in the UK. "Ghetto Defendant" featured Allen Ginsberg, and "Red Angel Dragnet" referenced the film Taxi Driver.

Tensions and disintegration

Cover of Combat Rock

The effects of this were not apparent externally at first with the success of Combat Rock. After that, the Clash began to slowly disintegrate. Topper Headon was fired on account of his on-going heroin addiction problem and the original drummer, Terry Chimes, was brought back into the fold for the next few tours. The key members, began to feud. Terry Chimes left the band after the 1982 Combat Rock tour, convinced the band could not continue with in-fighting and turmoil. In 1983, after an extensive search for a new drummer, Pete Howard was recruited and performed with the original line-up at several low-key US dates and before The Clash's largest audience at the US Festival in San Bernardino, California—Mick Jones's last appearance with The Clash.

In September 1983, Strummer and Simonon ousted Jones from the band, citing his problematic behaviour and divergent musical aspirations (Jones went on to found Big Audio Dynamite (BAD) with Don Letts). After a series of auditions, the band announced Nick Sheppard (23), formerly of the Bristol-based Cortinas, and Vince White (23) would be the band's new guitarists. The band played its first shows in January 1984 with a batch of new material and launched into a self-financed tour, dubbed the Out of Control tour.

Musically, the band was more than capable of re-creating—at times, bettering—the fire and intensity of the original line-up, but chemistry and trust between the old guard and the new were sometimes strained due to circumstance and unfamiliarity. Regardless, the band toured heavily over the winter and into early summer, with Strummer taking a hiatus until the fall to tend to personal matters. At a Miner's benefit show in December, he announced the band had a new record and was releasing it early in the new year.

The album's recording sessions were a shambles with manager Bernie Rhodes scrubbing Howard's considerable talent in favour of a drum machine, drastically re-engineering the songs' live arrangements, and relying on synthesizers and mob choruses. Other songs aired on the tour remain unreleased: "Ammunition", "Glue Zombie", "In the Pouring Rain".

Disillusioned with Rhodes's album, Strummer took the band busking across Northern England and Scotland, playing for free on street corners and in bars. The Clash played their final shows at European festivals in 1985, with Strummer eventually calling the band together and put The Clash down. Meanwhile, Cut the Crap was released to a generally poor reception, though it charted higher than Big Audio Dynamite's release in the USA.

Post-Clash careers

Joe Strummer acted in a few movies, recorded movie soundtracks (notably "Love Kills" for the film Sid and Nancy) and experimented with different backing bands with limited success. In 1991/92 Strummer joined The Pogues after their split-up with former frontman Shane MacGowan for a series of concerts across Europe. Finally, in the mid- to late-1990s, Strummer gathered top-flight musicians into a backing band he called The Mescaleros. Strummer signed with the California punk label Hellcat Records, and issued a stunning album co-written with Anthony Genn, called Rock Art and the X-Ray Style. A tour of England and North America soon followed; sets included several Clash-fan favourites. Genn left The Mescaleros in the middle of recording sessions for the second album, Global A Go-Go, which included violinist and guitarist Tymon Dogg, who contributed the song "Lose This Skin" to the album Sandinista! Following the release of Global A Go-Go, Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros mounted a 21-date tour of North America, Britain, and Ireland. Once again, these concerts featured Clash material ("London Calling", "Rudie Can't Fail"), as well as classic covers of reggae hits ("The Harder They Come", "A Message To You, Rudie") and regularly closed the show with a nod to the late Joey Ramone by playing The Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop". In December of 2002, Joe Strummer died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 50. The Mescaleros album he was working on at the time, Streetcore, was released posthumously to critical acclaim in 2003.

Following the break up of The Clash, Paul Simonon joined a group called Havana 3AM, which recorded only one album in Japan and quickly folded. Then Simonon returned to his roots as a visual artist, mounting several art-gallery shows and contributing the cover for Mick Jones' third BAD album, which was, coincidentally, co-produced by Joe Strummer. Simonon's reluctance to play music again has largely been cited as the reason why The Clash were one of the few 1970s British punk bands that did not reform to cash in on the punk-nostalgia craze of the late 1990s. However, Mick Jones commented in the press that at the time of Strummer's death, the band was seriously considering reuniting for a tour, and that the likelihood was good of it happening.

It should be noted that the Clash were never driven entirely by money. Even at their peak, tickets to shows and the prices of souvenirs were kept reasonable. Similarly, the group accepted lower royalties from Sandinista! in order to ensure that the album would be sold the same price as a single LP.

After being fired from the band shortly after the release of Combat Rock, Topper Headon wandered aimlessly with a heroin addiction. He formed a jazz band that enjoyed a very brief life. Until the filming of Don Letts' retrospective documentary about The Clash, Westway to The World, and a subsequent presentation to Strummer, Jones, Simonon, and Headon of a Lifetime Achievement British Music Award, Headon disappeared from the music business. It should be noted that his contribution to The Clash was by no means limited to his drumming for the band--Headon also composed the piano riff for "Rock The Casbah." Now he is clean and continues to perform on gigs. It was on one of those gigs when he learned that Joe is dead. In 2003 he stated that he'll perform on tribute gigs for Joe.

Sound Sample

Sample of "London Calling", from London Calling. 30 seconds, 616 KB

Discography

Studio Albums

  1. The Clash, 1977, CBS Records CD release: Epic Records #12 UK
  2. Give 'Em Enough Rope, 1978, CBS Records CD release: Epic Records #2 UK, #128 US
  3. London Calling, 1979, CBS Records CD release: Epic Records #9 UK, #27 US
    • Black Market Clash, 1980 (compilation of b-sides), CBS Records CD release: Epic Records
  4. Sandinista!, 1980, CBS Records CD release: Epic Records #19 UK, #24 US
  5. Combat Rock, 1982, CBS Records CD release: Epic Records #2 UK, #7 US
  6. Cut the Crap, 1985, CBS Records #16 UK, #88 US

Compilations

  1. The Story of the Clash, Volume 1, 1988 (compilation, greatest hits collection), CBS Records CD release: Epic Records #7 UK, #142 US
  2. Clash on Broadway, 1991 (3 disc box set containing several unreleased tracks and alternate versions), CBS Records CD release: Epic Records
  3. The Singles, 1991 (singles compilation), CBS Records CD release: Epic Records
    • Super Black Market Clash, 1994 (compilation of b-sides and rarietes), CBS Records CD release: Epic Records, #74 UK
  4. From Here to Eternity: Live, 1999 (live recordings from 1978 - 1982), Epic Records #13 UK, #193 US
  5. The Essential Clash, 2003 (compilation, "essential" recordings), Epic/Legacy #18 UK, #99 US
  6. London Calling: 25th Anniversary Legacy Edition, 2004 (expanded with rehearsal tapes and making of the album DVD), Epic/Legacy #26 UK

Hit singles

  • from "The Clash"
    • 1977 "White Riot" #38 UK
  • non-album singles (added to "The Clash" US version)
    • 1977 "Complete Control" #28 UK
    • 1978 "Clash City Rockers" #35 UK
    • 1978 "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais" #32 UK
  • from "Give 'Em Enough Rope"
    • 1978 "Tommy Gun" #19 UK
    • 1979 "English Civil War (Johnny Comes Marching Home)" #25 UK
  • non-album EP
    • 1979 "The Cost Of Living EP" (I Fought the Law/Groovy Times/Gates of the West/Capital Radio One) #22 UK
  • from "London Calling"
    • 1979 "London Calling" #11 UK
    • 1980 "Train in Vain (Stand by Me)" #23 US
  • from "Black Market Clash"
    • 1980 "Bankrobber" #12 UK
  • from "Sandinista!"
    • 1980 "The Call Up" #40 UK
    • 1981 "The Magnificent Seven" #34 UK
  • from "Combat Rock"
    • 1982 "Rock the Casbah" #30 UK, #8 US (1983 release)
    • 1982 "Should I Stay or Should I Go/Straight to Hell" #17 UK
  • from "Cut the Crap"
    • 1985 "This Is England" #24 UK
  • from "The Story of the Clash", originally on the US version of "The Clash"
    • 1988 "I Fought the Law" #29 UK
  • from "The Singles"
    • 1991 "Should I Stay or Should I Go" (re-issue) #1 UK
    • 1991 "Rock the Casbah" (re-issue) #15 UK

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30 seconds, 616 KB. The Get Happy bonus disc was also of note, with 30 additional tracks, bringing the total for the 2-disc set to 50 songs. Sample of "London Calling", from London Calling. The Almost Blue and Kojak Variety bonus discs were particularly notable as each contained, essentially, an entire new album's worth of material also performed but either not issued, or released as b-sides on singles originally. In 2003 he stated that he'll perform on tribute gigs for Joe. The sound was remastered in each case as well. It was on one of those gigs when he learned that Joe is dead. Costello himself and featuring, in each case, a bonus disc of b-sides, outtakes, live tracks, alternate versions and / or demos of songs.

It should be noted that his contribution to The Clash was by no means limited to his drumming for the band--Headon also composed the piano riff for "Rock The Casbah." Now he is clean and continues to perform on gigs. and the Attractions ones) were reissued from 2001 to 2003, under the guidance of Mr. Until the filming of Don Letts' retrospective documentary about The Clash, Westway to The World, and a subsequent presentation to Strummer, Jones, Simonon, and Headon of a Lifetime Achievement British Music Award, Headon disappeared from the music business. Many of the earlier albums (all of the .. He formed a jazz band that enjoyed a very brief life. This section is incomplete. After being fired from the band shortly after the release of Combat Rock, Topper Headon wandered aimlessly with a heroin addiction. Mainly blues, country, and folk, "The Delivery Man" received early acclaim as one of Costello's best albums, and continues Elvis' personal quest to release an album on each and every one of Universal's record labels.

Similarly, the group accepted lower royalties from Sandinista! in order to ensure that the album would be sold the same price as a single LP. Costello released another album in July of that year: "The Delivery Man", a rock album recorded in Oxford, Miss. Even at their peak, tickets to shows and the prices of souvenirs were kept reasonable. It was released on CD in October by Deutsche Grammophon. It should be noted that the Clash were never driven entirely by money. A range of musical moods and styles are used to represent the different elements of the cast - satyrical pomp for the courtiers, jazz for the faeries, and for Bottom a deliberately intrusive "brass band" motif. However, Mick Jones commented in the press that at the time of Strummer's death, the band was seriously considering reuniting for a tour, and that the likelihood was good of it happening. Whilst composing it, Costello deliberately avoided listening to the previous interpretations by Mendelssohn and Britten in order to ensure his own originality.

Simonon's reluctance to play music again has largely been cited as the reason why The Clash were one of the few 1970s British punk bands that did not reform to cash in on the punk-nostalgia craze of the late 1990s. The work, a ballet after Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night's Dream, was commissioned by Italian dance troupe Aterballeto, and received critical acclaim. Then Simonon returned to his roots as a visual artist, mounting several art-gallery shows and contributing the cover for Mick Jones' third BAD album, which was, coincidentally, co-produced by Joe Strummer. In July 2004 Costello's first full-scale orchestral work, Il Sogno, was performed in New York. Following the break up of The Clash, Paul Simonon joined a group called Havana 3AM, which recorded only one album in Japan and quickly folded. In 2004, the song "Scarlet Tide" (co-written by Costello and T-Bone Burnett and used in the film Cold Mountain) was nominated for an Academy Award. The Mescaleros album he was working on at the time, Streetcore, was released posthumously to critical acclaim in 2003. In December, Costello and Krall married at the London estate of Elton John.

In December of 2002, Joe Strummer died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 50. September saw the release of North, an album of piano-based ballads. Once again, these concerts featured Clash material ("London Calling", "Rudie Can't Fail"), as well as classic covers of reggae hits ("The Harder They Come", "A Message To You, Rudie") and regularly closed the show with a nod to the late Joey Ramone by playing The Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop". In May, his engagement to Canadian jazz singer and pianist Diana Krall was announced. Genn left The Mescaleros in the middle of recording sessions for the second album, Global A Go-Go, which included violinist and guitarist Tymon Dogg, who contributed the song "Lose This Skin" to the album Sandinista! Following the release of Global A Go-Go, Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros mounted a 21-date tour of North America, Britain, and Ireland. In March 2003, Elvis Costello & The Attractions were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A tour of England and North America soon followed; sets included several Clash-fan favourites. In 2002 he released a new album, When I Was Cruel, and toured with a new band, the Imposters (the Attractions with a different bass player, Davey Farragher, formerly of Cracker).

Strummer signed with the California punk label Hellcat Records, and issued a stunning album co-written with Anthony Genn, called Rock Art and the X-Ray Style. He produced and appeared on an album of songs for opera singer Anne Sofie von Otter, For The Stars. In 1991/92 Strummer joined The Pogues after their split-up with former frontman Shane MacGowan for a series of concerts across Europe. Finally, in the mid- to late-1990s, Strummer gathered top-flight musicians into a backing band he called The Mescaleros. In 2001, Costello began teaching music at UCLA and wrote the music for a new ballet. Joe Strummer acted in a few movies, recorded movie soundtracks (notably "Love Kills" for the film Sid and Nancy) and experimented with different backing bands with limited success. For the 25th anniversary of Saturday Night Live, Costello was invited to the program, where he re-enacted his abrupt song-switch: This time, however, he interrupted the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage", and they acted as his backing group for "Radio, Radio". Meanwhile, Cut the Crap was released to a generally poor reception, though it charted higher than Big Audio Dynamite's release in the USA. That collaboration led the pair to write and record an album together, Painted From Memory, released in 1998 under his new contract with Mercury Records.

The Clash played their final shows at European festivals in 1985, with Strummer eventually calling the band together and put The Clash down. He collaborated with Burt Bacharach in 1996 on a song called "God Give Me Strength" for the movie Grace of My Heart. Disillusioned with Rhodes's album, Strummer took the band busking across Northern England and Scotland, playing for free on street corners and in bars. This was the final album of his Warner Bros. contract. Other songs aired on the tour remain unreleased: "Ammunition", "Glue Zombie", "In the Pouring Rain". An album of cover songs recorded 5 years previously was released in 1995, Kojak Variety, followed in 1996 by an album of songs he had originally written for other artists, All This Useless Beauty. The album's recording sessions were a shambles with manager Bernie Rhodes scrubbing Howard's considerable talent in favour of a drum machine, drastically re-engineering the songs' live arrangements, and relying on synthesizers and mob choruses. Costello would return to rock and roll the following year with a project that reunited him with The Attractions, Brutal Youth.

At a Miner's benefit show in December, he announced the band had a new record and was releasing it early in the new year. In 1993, Costello tested the waters of classical music with a critically acclaimed collaboration with the Brodsky Quartet on The Juliet Letters. Regardless, the band toured heavily over the winter and into early summer, with Strummer taking a hiatus until the fall to tend to personal matters. In 1991 Costello released the aforementioned Mighty Like A Rose, during which time he infamously grew a long beard. Musically, the band was more than capable of re-creating—at times, bettering—the fire and intensity of the original line-up, but chemistry and trust between the old guard and the new were sometimes strained due to circumstance and unfamiliarity. In 1989, he appeared on the HBO special, Roy Orbison and Friends, A Black and White Night that featured his long-time idol, Roy Orbison and was invited back to Saturday Night Live for the first time since 1977. The band played its first shows in January 1984 with a batch of new material and launched into a self-financed tour, dubbed the Out of Control tour. They wrote a number of songs together including Costello's "Veronica" and "Pads, Paws and Claws" from Spike (1989), "So Like Candy" and "Playboy to a Man" from Mighty Like A Rose (1991) and McCartney's "My Brave Face", "Don't Be Careless Love", "That Day Is Done" and "You Want Her Too" from Flowers in the Dirt, and "The Lovers That Never Were" and "Mistress and Maid" from Off The Ground.

After a series of auditions, the band announced Nick Sheppard (23), formerly of the Bristol-based Cortinas, and Vince White (23) would be the band's new guitarists. In 1987, Costello, with a new contract with Warner Bros., began a long running songwriting collaboration with Paul McCartney. In September 1983, Strummer and Simonon ousted Jones from the band, citing his problematic behaviour and divergent musical aspirations (Jones went on to found Big Audio Dynamite (BAD) with Don Letts). It also marked the return of producer Nick Lowe, who had produced Costello's first five albums. In 1983, after an extensive search for a new drummer, Pete Howard was recruited and performed with the original line-up at several low-key US dates and before The Clash's largest audience at the US Festival in San Bernardino, California—Mick Jones's last appearance with The Clash. Later that year, he returned to the studio with the Attractions and recorded Blood and Chocolate, heralded for a post-punk fervor not heard since 1978's This Year's Model. Terry Chimes left the band after the 1982 Combat Rock tour, convinced the band could not continue with in-fighting and turmoil. Around this time he legally changed his name back to Declan McManus, adding Aloysius as an extra middle name.

The key members, began to feud. Working in the US with Burnett, a band containing a number of Elvis Presley's sidemen (including James Burton and Jerry Scheff) and minor input from the Attractions he produced King Of America, an acoustic guitar-driven album with a country sound, augmented by some of his best songs for some time. Topper Headon was fired on account of his on-going heroin addiction problem and the original drummer, Terry Chimes, was brought back into the fold for the next few tours. By 1986, Costello was preparing to make his comeback. After that, the Clash began to slowly disintegrate. In 1985, Costello teamed up with good friend T-Bone Burnett for a single called "The People's Limousine" under the moniker of The Coward Brothers. That year, Costello also produced Rum, Sodomy and the Lash for the punk/folk band the Pogues. The effects of this were not apparent externally at first with the success of Combat Rock. The retirement, although short-lived, was accompanied by two compilations, Elvis Costello: The Man in the UK, Europe and Australia and The Best Of Elvis Costello in the USA.

"Ghetto Defendant" featured Allen Ginsberg, and "Red Angel Dragnet" referenced the film Taxi Driver. However, even though this is generally regarded as one his worst records, some songs such as "The Comedians" (which was quoted in Alan Moore's seminal comic series Watchmen) are very highly regarded. Featuring the singles "Rock the Casbah" and "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" it broke into the American Top Ten, and did the same in the UK. With a number of poor songs, and with even the better ones damaged by muddy production, the record was slated on release, an opinion which even many of Costello's most ardent fans still share. In 1982, The Clash returned with the best-selling of all their albums, Combat Rock. Costello would later say of this record that they had "got it as wrong as you can in terms of the execution". Following the release of Sandinista!, The Clash went on their first world tour including venues in eastern Asia and Australia. Tensions within the band were beginning to tell, and with Costello starting to feel burnt out he announced his retirement and the disbandment of the group shortly before they were to record Goodbye Cruel World (1984).

Fans were confused and sales were down, although they were better in the US than previously. Punch the Clock also generated an international hit in the single "Everyday I Write the Book," aided by a prophetic music video featuring lookalikes of the Prince and Princess of Wales undergoing domestic strife in a suburban home. The results were mixed, as the band continued their experimentation into reggae and dub ("Let's Go Crazy") and expanded into other musical styles and production techniques that included jazz ("Look Here"), hip hop ("The Magnificent Seven"), chamber music ("Rebel Waltz"), vocals by keyboard player Micky Gallagher's young son, and "Mensforth Hill," a tape loop collage similar to The Beatles Revolution No 9.. (The electorate were seemingly not swayed.). The Clash followed London Calling with a triple album (released for the price of a double album) in late 1980, entitled Sandinista! (with the catalog number FSLN1, from the Spanish initials of the Sandinista political movement, Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional). Equally political was "Pills And Soap" -- a UK hit for Costello himself under the pseudonym of "The Imposter" -- an attack on the changes in British society brought on by Thatcherism, released to coincide with the run-up to the 1983 UK general election. The album is considered a landmark, and tracks such as "Train in Vain", "Clampdown" and "London Calling" show up with regularity on rock stations to this day. (An affecting, emotive cover version of the song was a minor UK hit for former Soft Machine drummer and political activist, Robert Wyatt).

Besides straightforward punk, it featured a much wider array of styles than the earlier albums, including American-style rockabilly and reggae works that resonated with the ska movement in Britain. Clive Langer, who co-produced with Alan Winstanley, provided Costello with a melody which eventually became "Shipbuilding", an oblique and articulate look at the political contradictions of the Falklands War, with the military build-up providing jobs for the struggling shipyards of Britain; the song featured a striking solo by Chet Baker. The band's critical and commercial breakthrough in the US came with London Calling, a double album released in January 1980 for the price of a single album (at the band's insistence). 1983 saw another sidetrack with the Pop-Soul of Punch the Clock, featuring female backing vocals courtesy of Afrodiziak and a four piece brass section, The TKO Horns, alongside The Attractions. This included a roaring version of Bobby Fuller's I Fought The Law (originally from their Cost Of Living EP). Featuring a superior set of songs - both musically and lyrically - it remains one of his most critically acclaimed records but again failed to produce any hit singles. Their first album did not see an official release in the US until July 1979, then in a drastically revised form from the version that was released elsewhere. Imperial Bedroom (1982) marked a much darker, almost baroque sound for Costello, due in large part to the production of Geoff Emerick, famed for engineering several Beatles records.

Give 'em Enough Rope was the first Clash album to be released by a US label (though the UK release of the first album was a bestselling import in the US), and to support it the Clash went on their first tour of the US in early 1979. (Jazz Trumpeter Chet Baker would later perform and record a beautifully morose version of this song.). The Clash are generally credited with founding the roots of punk rock in liberal protest, and were known as the "Thinking Man's Yobs" by many for their politically astute take on the world. Almost Blue did spawn a surprise UK hit single in a version of George Jones' "Good Year For The Roses." Although the album was entitled Almost Blue it didn't include the song by that name, which would appear on 1982's Imperial Bedroom release. I don't wanna shout / But while we were talking I saw you nodding out..." — finally asking, "After all this, won't you give me a smile?". Receiving mixed reviews, some of which accused Costello of growing soft, the record was released with a sticker bearing the message:. Quit holding out and draw another breath.. Following the commercial disappointment of Trust, Costello took a break from songwriting and the band decamped to Nashville to record Almost Blue, an album of country music ballads written by the likes of Merle Haggard ("Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down") and Gram Parsons ("How Much I Lied").

now don't look to us / Phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust..." — draws a bleak picture of the times — "The ice age is coming, the sun's zooming in / Engines stop running, the wheat is growing thin" — but calls on their listeners to come out of their drugged stupor and take up the fight without constantly looking to London, or to The Clash themselves, for cues — "Forget it, brother, we can go it alone.. Despite its eclecticism ("Different Finger" had a distinct country feel) and pop hooks, Trust was not a major success and the first album since his debut to generate no hit singles. Murrow's catchphrase during World War II, and the title song announces that "...war is declared and battle come down..." It warns against expecting them to be saviours — ".. 1981's Trust had a more pop sound, but the overall result was clearly affected by the growing tensions within the band, particularly between Bruce and Pete Thomas. The title of London Calling evokes American radio newsman Edward R. Lyrically, the songs are full of Costello's signature wordplay, to the point that he later felt he'd become something of a self-parody and toned it down on later releases. They were especially wary of their own emerging stardom: they always welcomed fans backstage after shows and showed genuine interest and compassion in their relationships with them. The brevity of the songs (20 tracks in about 45 minutes) suited the band's new style (the Thomas' typically melodic rhythm section and Nieve's reasonable impersonation of Booker T) as well as the frantic and stressful conditions under which it was written and recorded, crammed between live dates and fuelled by excessive drinking.

By the time of the December 1979 album London Calling, the Clash (like the Dead Kennedys in the U.S.) were trying to square the circle of maintaining punk energy while developing increasingly musicianly chops. It would be the first, and - along with King Of America - possibly most successful, of Costello's many experiments with genres beyond those with which he is normally associated (the single, "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down" was an old Sam and Dave song, though Costello increased the tempo considerably). They were involved directly with the controversial Anti-Nazi League and Rock Against Racism. Possibly as another statement of his oft-stated debt to black music, Costello and the Attractions' next album, Get Happy!! was an inventive pastiche of new wave pop and soul music. The Clash offered some support to the IRA and the PLO, and later, the Sandinista and other Marxist movements in Latin America (hence the title of their 1981 album, Sandinista!). A contrite Costello apologised at a press conference, claiming that he had been drunk, and had said it only to annoy Bramlett (at which he was successful, since Bramlett punched him in the face). Still, he felt bad after the show, prompting him to write the song "Tommy Gun," renouncing violence as a means of protest. His success in the US was severely dented, however when Costello called Ray Charles a "blind, ignorant nigger" during an argument with Bonnie Bramlett in an Ohio bar (the comment being particularly odd, since Elvis worked extensively in Britain's "Rock Against Racism" campaign both before and after).

He later said in an interview that he wore the shirt not to support the left-wing terrorists factions in Germany and Italy, rather to bring attention to their existence. Costello also found time in 1979 to produce the debut album for ska band The Specials. In one instance in 1978, at a Rock Against Racism show, organized by the Anti-Nazi League, Joe Strummer wore a controversial t-shirt bearing the words "Brigate-Rosse" with the Red Army Faction (Baader-Meinhof) insignia in the middle. Both the album and the single "Oliver's Army", with a piano hook self-admittedly borrowed from Abba's "Dancing Queen", went to No.2 in the UK. Their politics were expressed explicity in their lyrics, in early recordings such as "White Riot," which encouraged disaffected white youths to become politically active like their black counterparts, "Career Opportunities," which expressed discontent over the lack of jobs in the U.K., and "London's Burning", which expressed punk rage, but was at the same time downright analytical. Inspired by the constant touring, the band were in fine form and Elvis had further honed his lyrical wit, tackling subjects both personal and political. Instead, they found solidarity with a number of liberation movements going on at the time. 1979 would see the peak of Costello's commercial success with the release of the album Armed Forces (originally titled "Emotional Fascism").

Unlike many early punk bands, however, The Clash rejected the overall sentiment of nihilism and anarchy. He was banned from Saturday Night Live for nearly fifteen years, and didn't appear on any American television programs for several years. and around the world. Costello has also stated that he thought "Less Than Zero" would not make much sense to American audiences. Like many early punk bands, The Clash protested against the monarchy and the aristocracy in the U.K. During rehearsal, he and the Attractions played "Less Than Zero" but when the live performance came, Costello played the introduction for that song, then--to the shock of the program's producers--he stopped the song, apologized to the audience, then broke into a rendition of "Radio, Radio" depite being asked not to play the song because of its anti-corporate message. 'Rope' was released in 1978 and debuted at number two on the British charts, but failed to crack the top 100 in the world's largest music market, the United States. In 1977, Costello appeared on Saturday Night Live.

Pearlman was amazed by Headon's impressive timing and musical skills and thus christened him "The Human Drum Machine". A tour of the US and Canada also saw the release of the much bootlegged promo-only "Live At The El Mocambo" which finally saw an official release as part of the "2 1/2 Years" boxset in 1993. Their next album, the Sandy Pearlman-produced Give 'Em Enough Rope, was the first to feature Topper Headon on all cuts. Following a whirlwind tour with other Stiff artists (captured on the Live Stiffs album, notable for Costello's recording of the Burt Bacharach standard "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself") the band recorded This Year's Model (1978), a frenetic record filled with raucous energy and Costello's barbed lyrics. Stand-out tracks include the British hit "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea" and "Lipstick Vogue", on which the rhythm section excel. Throughout 1977, Joe Strummer and Mick Jones were in and out of jail for a range of minor crimes, ranging from vandalism to stealing a pillowcase, while Simonon and Headon were arrested for shooting racing pigeons with an air gun. He released his first major hit single, the cinematic "Watching The Detectives", recorded with Nieve, plus Steve Goulding (drums) & Andrew Bodnar (bass), both members of Graham Parker & The Rumour. Initially The Clash were notable for their strident leftist political outlook and distinctive clothes that they painted with revolutionary slogans ("Sten Guns in Knightsbridge" "Under Heavy Manners"). The same year, Costello recruited his own band, The Attractions (Steve Nieve, born Steve Nason, piano; Bruce Thomas, bass guitar and Pete Thomas drums; the Thomases are unrelated).

They released their first single ("White Riot") and first album (The Clash) in 1977 to considerable success in the UK, though CBS initially declined to release either in the United States, only releasing a modified version of the first album in the US after the UK original had been a bestselling import for two years. 14 in the UK and Top 40 in the US) with Costello appearing on the cover in his trademark glasses bearing a striking resemblance to Buddy Holly. Its release saw Costello marketed by Stiff as a new wave artist or a punk, despite the fact that the album featured the ballad "Alison" (one of his most enduring songs). Their first gig was in 1976 supporting The Sex Pistols, and that autumn the band were signed to CBS Records. Costello's first album, My Aim Is True (1977) was a moderate commercial success (No. Instead he remained with The Clash until late 1982 – present for most of the band's career. His manager at Stiff, Jake Riviera suggested a name change (using Presley's first name and his mother's maiden name to form "Elvis Costello") and teamed him with a country/soft rock band named "Clover" (who would later back Huey Lewis as 'The News'). The musically gifted Headon was planning to stay only briefly. On the basis of a demo tape, he was signed to Stiff Records.

Nick Headon). McManus worked a number of dead-end jobs, during which time he continued to write songs, and began aggressively looking for a solo recording contract, which led to an incident in which he was arrested while busking outside a conference of record executives. Following the release of their first album, Chimes was replaced with longtime drummer Topper Headon (b. It was there that he formed his first band, Flip City, which had a style very much in the pub rock vein. They lasted until 1975–1976, by which time McManus was living in London with a wife and child. And so the Clash—name supplied by Simonon after seeing the word in all the newspapers—came to be. Born into a musical family (his father, Ross McManus, sang with Joe Loss), McManus moved with his mother to Liverpool in 1971. At the behest of manager Bernie Rhodes, Jones, Levene and Simonon recruited Strummer from the 101ers ("You're all right," they told him, "but your band's crap." Rhodes then allegedly gave Strummer 48 hours to sign on, but called him wanting an answer in 24). His output has been wildly diverse: One critic has written that "Costello, the pop encyclopedia, can reinvent the past in his own image."[1] (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:ly09kect7q70~T1).

Strummer had previously been in the pub rock act The 101ers (his first stage name at this point was Woody Mellor, branding himself "Joe Strummer" during this period), and Jones and Simonon (briefly) in legendary proto-punk band London SS. He was an early participant in London's pub rock scene in the mid-1970s, and later became associated with the punk rock and new wave musical genres, before establishing himself as a unique and original voice in the 1980s. Keith Levene (later of Public Image Limited) was an early guitarist and songwriter with The Clash, but he never recorded with the band and left in ambiguous circumstances after 5 gigs. Declan Patrick Aloysius McManus (born August 25, 1954), better known by his stage name, Elvis Costello, is a popular British musician, singer, and songwriter of Irish descent. 1955) (bass and vocals), Keith Levene (lead guitar) Terry Chimes (credited on the first LP as "Tory Crimes") (drums), the Clash formed in London in 1976 during the first wave of British punk. 2003 Academy Award nomination for best original song The Scarlet Tide in Cold Mountain. John Graham Mellor in 1952) (vocals, rhythm guitar), Mick Jones (vocals, lead guitar), Paul Simonon (b. 2001 Prison Song, as a public defender and a teacher.

Originally composed of Joe Strummer (b. 1999 as himself in 200 Cigarettes. The influence of The Clash also can be found through the 1990s British music of the Britpop movement, whose revolutionary looks and big and catchy hooks are influenced by their music. 1999 as himself in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, performing with Burt Bacharach. borrow much from The Clash. 1997 as himself in Spice World. Besides contemporary American punk outfits like Green Day, Blink 182 and The Offspring, which cite The Clash as a major influence, alternative rock seminal bands like U2, the Cure and R.E.M. 1987 as 'Hives the Butler' in Alex Cox film Straight to Hell, starring Joe Strummer and Courtney Love.

They are considered as one of the most influential and best-known punk acts in the world. 1985 as inept magician 'Rosco de Ville' in Alan Bleasdale film No Surrender. One of the most critically lauded bands of their period, The Clash was noted for being musically far-reaching (they incorporated reggae, roots rock, and eventually many other music styles into their repertoire), for displaying a political and lyrical sophistication that distinguished them from most of their colleagues in the punk movement, and for uncommonly intense stage performances. 1984 as 'Henry Scully' in UK TV series Scully. The Clash was a British punk rock group that existed from 1976 to 1985. 1979 film debut as 'The Earl of Manchester' in Americathon. 1991 "Rock the Casbah" (re-issue) #15 UK. 2004 - A Tribute to Elvis Costello - Patrik Tanner.

1991 "Should I Stay or Should I Go" (re-issue) #1 UK. 2003 - The Elvis Costello Songbook - Bonnie Brett. from "The Singles"

    . 2002 - Almost You: The Songs of Elvis Costello - (various artists). 1988 "I Fought the Law" #29 UK. 1998 - Bespoke Songs, Lost Dogs, Detours & Rendezvous - (various artists). from "The Story of the Clash", originally on the US version of "The Clash"
      . 2003 - Singles, Volume 3.

      1985 "This Is England" #24 UK. 2003 - Singles, Volume 2. from "Cut the Crap"

        . 2003 - Singles, Volume 1. 1982 "Should I Stay or Should I Go/Straight to Hell" #17 UK. 1993 - 2˝ Years. 1982 "Rock the Casbah" #30 UK, #8 US (1983 release). 1987 - Out of Our Idiot.

        from "Combat Rock"

          . 1980 - Ten Bloody Marys & Ten How's Your Fathers. 1981 "The Magnificent Seven" #34 UK. 1980 - Taking Liberties. 1980 "The Call Up" #40 UK. 2004 - Il Sogno. from "Sandinista!"
            . 2004 - The Delivery Man.

            1980 "Bankrobber" #12 UK. 2003 - North. from "Black Market Clash"

              . 2002 - When I Was Cruel. 1980 "Train in Vain (Stand by Me)" #23 US. 1998 - Painted from Memory, with Burt Bacharach. 1979 "London Calling" #11 UK. 1996 - Costello & Nieve.

              from "London Calling"

                . 1996 - All This Useless Beauty. 1979 "The Cost Of Living EP" (I Fought the Law/Groovy Times/Gates of the West/Capital Radio One) #22 UK. 1995 - Kojak Variety. non-album EP
                  . 1994 - Brutal Youth. 1979 "English Civil War (Johnny Comes Marching Home)" #25 UK. 1993 - The Juliet Letters.

                  1978 "Tommy Gun" #19 UK. 1991 - Mighty Like a Rose. from "Give 'Em Enough Rope"

                    . 1989 - Spike. 1978 "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais" #32 UK. 1986 - Blood and Chocolate. 1978 "Clash City Rockers" #35 UK. 1986 - King of America.

                    1977 "Complete Control" #28 UK. 1984 - Goodbye Cruel World. non-album singles (added to "The Clash" US version)

                      . 1983 - Punch the Clock. 1977 "White Riot" #38 UK. 1982 - Imperial Bedroom. from "The Clash"
                        . 1981 - Almost Blue.

                        London Calling: 25th Anniversary Legacy Edition, 2004 (expanded with rehearsal tapes and making of the album DVD), Epic/Legacy #26 UK. 1981 - Trust. The Essential Clash, 2003 (compilation, "essential" recordings), Epic/Legacy #18 UK, #99 US. 1980 - Get Happy!!. From Here to Eternity: Live, 1999 (live recordings from 1978 - 1982), Epic Records #13 UK, #193 US. 1979 - Armed Forces. Super Black Market Clash, 1994 (compilation of b-sides and rarietes), CBS Records CD release: Epic Records, #74 UK. 1978 - This Year's Model.

                        The Singles, 1991 (singles compilation), CBS Records CD release: Epic Records

                          . 1977 - My Aim Is True. Clash on Broadway, 1991 (3 disc box set containing several unreleased tracks and alternate versions), CBS Records CD release: Epic Records. The Story of the Clash, Volume 1, 1988 (compilation, greatest hits collection), CBS Records CD release: Epic Records #7 UK, #142 US. Cut the Crap, 1985, CBS Records #16 UK, #88 US.

                          Combat Rock, 1982, CBS Records CD release: Epic Records #2 UK, #7 US. Sandinista!, 1980, CBS Records CD release: Epic Records #19 UK, #24 US. Black Market Clash, 1980 (compilation of b-sides), CBS Records CD release: Epic Records. London Calling, 1979, CBS Records CD release: Epic Records #9 UK, #27 US

                            .

                            Give 'Em Enough Rope, 1978, CBS Records CD release: Epic Records #2 UK, #128 US. The Clash, 1977, CBS Records CD release: Epic Records #12 UK.

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