37 years ago today….

Thirty-seven years ago today saw the release of what I’d consider to be the best punk single of all time. When I began my initial explorations into The Clash at 18 years of age in 2012, the incomplete live footage of ‘Complete Control’ from Rude Boy was one of the first live Clash videos I saw.and it just floored me. I’d never seen anyone perform like Joe Strummer in that footage and he mesmerized me. Really, that performance coupled with ‘Know Your Rights’ from the US Festival quite simply changed my life. Joe Strummer may have ad-libbed the line “you’re my guitiar hero!” to Mick Jones but songs like this cemented The Clash as my guitar heroes.

Strong personal feelings aside, ‘Complete Control’ really is such an incredible song that’s special in a number of ways. It’s unique in that it’s sung by Strummer yet the vast majority was penned by Jones and it also has the honor of being the first song recorded with a certain Topper Headon at the drums. ‘Complete Control’ was the start of a new chapter for this band, one that would see them rise to dizzying heights only to implode all too soon. It was released in 1977 as a non-album single (in the UK at least) and it comfortably bridges the gap between The Clash and Give ‘Em Enough Rope. It’s more technically proficient than The Clash, it’s more polished, yet there’s still that unmistakeable raw edge and visceral feel that made it a classic album of the genre. This is still very much punk music, and punk music of the highest order.

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Glastonbury Day 2 Chatter: Metallica, Arcade Fire etc

Evening from a lovely day in Belfast – Glastonbury is now in full swing and I’m actually rather tired from staying up last night to watch the TV broadcast of Arcade Fire’s set. That’s sufficient enough proof that I don’t have the stamina for outdoor festivals. Anyway, I’ll do it all over again tonight, some things just need to be done!

Of course the best place to start with today’s Glastonbury chatter is with last night’s headliners: Arcade Fire. I thought their show was absolutely fantastic. Totally bonkers as expected and so consistently good. All credit to Arcade Fire, every song felt like it could have served as an encore, such was the unrelenting spectacle of it all. I was thrilled that they performed the majority of Reflektor. The only two songs from the album that I wished were also performed were ‘You Never Know’ and ‘Supersymmetry’. Apart from that they did every other song I wanted to hear. I was genuinely surprised though that they didn’t throw in one of their Clash covers. It seemed like a dead cert given it’s an English festival and Joe Strummer’s campfires were the stuff of Glastonbury legend – and they still continue in his honor thanks to Strummerville. The exclusion hardly ruined their set though. They actually exceeded my expectations, simply an excellent performance.

Onto today, and for the larger stages today is probably the weakest day of the three for me. The artist whose performance I’m most eager to see today is Jagwar Ma. They released the debut album of 2013 for me and even though they played Glastonbury last year I’ve never seen any footage of the set. Moving onto the smaller stages and I’m a tad annoyed that Charlie XCX, dan le sac vs. Scroobius Pip, and 2manyDJS with James Murphy aren’t being recorded at all. There’s actually a lot of electronic based artists on those smaller stages throughout the whole festival that I’d love to have streamed. I do find that disappointing.

Mind you, by far the most intriguing act for the whole festival for me is Metallica, who make their Glastonbury debut. I actually know little of their music (though I like a few songs) yet as far as left of field Pyramid Stage headliners go I’m hard-pressed to think of a more anomalous headline act. That alone makes this set something I simply have to see. Heavy metal isn’t a genre I listen to usually but it’s always good to take a step out of your musical comfort zone. I might even become enticed to seek out more of their music following it, stranger things have happened! Whatever happens, you’ll be hearing from me tomorrow so I’ll see you then!

The Clash – Broadway

This smouldering ballad – buried deep in the heart of Sandinista – is amongst the finest recordings in The Clash canon. In ‘Broadway’, Joe Strummer’s lyrics depicting a tramp living on the streets of New York recounting his life to a passerby are combined with a beautiful jazz melody. Not very many punk bands could write a song as powerful as this. Then again, The Clash weren’t exactly your typical punk band either. It also boasts one of the finest vocal performances by Strummer. He sounds appropriately wearied and forlorn yet his voice is more melodic than it usually is. It’s a song of such beauty that it is staggering to think it came just four years after the release of the classic ‘White Riot’. It’s a level of musical evolution seldom seen in the music industry. The song is so majestic that even the needless tacking on of a child’s partial cover version of ‘Guns of Brixton’ does little to detract from it. That truly is saying something.

 

Joe Strummer – Ocean of Dreams

I’ve become somewhat addicted to this unreleased Strummer gem recently. It’s a mysterious instrumental piece and with its soft, almost ambient feel, it’s a rather unusual Strummer composition. I can’t find much information about this song, only that it’s actually a collaboration with Steve Jones of Sex Pistols. It also appears to have been recorded in sessions for the first Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros album, Rock Art and The X-Ray Style. It was allegedly proposed as a potential B-side, but those plans never amounted to anything and the track appears to have been more or less forgotten about. It’s never surfaced on any official release. In fact, I only discovered it thanks to a Joe Strummer two-disc rarities bootleg I had downloaded called Generations (a recommended collection). Hopefully one day it will see an official release as it’s another example of Joe Strummer’s exploration into more left of field music during his time with The Mescaleros!

Record Store Day 2014

ImageSorry for absolutely no posts in what seems like forever – I’ve had an exceptionally busy time of it these past few weeks. Anyway, like most of you, I had an exceptionally busy time yesterday too. It was Record Store Day and it was the first time I’ve ever partook in one actually. It was a brilliant experience, and it went absolutely perfectly. I got every release I wanted, and I was particularly thrilled to see that Head had got in a very small – no more than about three or so it appeared – copies of Pet Shop Boys’ Fluorescent 12″. I was very fortunate to obtain a copy as I got the second copy and I think they had sold out by the time I left the store. The hour queuing since 7:20am paid off dividends as I wasn’t prepared to take the risk of missing these exclusive releases. It was a lovely day with beautiful weather, and it was great to see so many people out supporting the local record shops. I was amazed how many people were there queuing just for Castlecourt Shopping Centre opening its doors at 7:30am actually. By the time Head opened at 8am, there was easily at least about 100 people queuing behind me and my brother – that meant the total queue was nearly out the main entrance of Castlecourt. Bonkers! There was a great buzz though, and I just really loved the experience. As you can see I also got a few other random bits and bobs. I couldn’t resist getting The Clash – Live At The Shea Stadium on vinyl as I hadn’t seen that before. I also finally got The Velvet Underground & Nico on CD as well as getting the soundtrack to one of my favourite films, The Blues Brothers. I just love that soundtrack. It was a great day for sure, and as I’m finally getting my turntable this week I simply can’t wait to listen to these!

A New Record Store

Morning everyone – sorry for not posting in nearly two weeks. I’ve spent the last week and a half with a very heavy cold and writing simply hasn’t been an option. I got the cold because I got soaked in a torrential shower on Valentines Day when I rushed into town to pick up a copy of Island Hopping by Joe Strummer on 7″. I still maintain the subsequent illness was for a worthy cause.

Anyway, I haven’t had the chance to write on the blog about my trip on Tuesday 18th February to a record store I hadn’t visited before. Whilst still ill (and clutching a delicious Ferrero Roche milkshake for comfort food), I made the forty minute train journey to Ballymena. I hadn’t actually been to Ballymena before either so it was all quite the adventure.

The store is called Track Records and is situated in Hill St. It’s a lovely little place and the staff are very friendly. They’re also very generous too. I had asked them on Facebook if they had any Clash/Joe Strummer vinyls (they hadn’t). After telling them I’d still call up regardless they very kindly offered to specially get Clash/Joe Strummer items in for me! Top notch customer service indeed. They got some old Mojo/Uncut magazines with Clash covers in specially for me. I was delighted – they’re somewhat more unusual items that would be extremely hard to find here. Track Records are the only record store that I know of that sells vintage music magazines at all actually.

That extremely nice bonus aside, I came away with some great gems, ones I don’t think I’d find in Belfast really. I got a copy of American Life (the single) on 12″ vinyl. I wasn’t actually aware that single was even released on vinyl so it was a real suprise to me. I also got a copy of Like A Virgin (the album) too. The condition was great and I couldn’t refuse the price. I also got Ladyhawke’s first album and the special edition of Melody AM by Royksopp. It’s a lovely shop and I’d definitely go again!

The Clash – Nationwide 1980

I’m sharing this video for two reasons. I love the footage and today marks the 34th anniversary since original broadcast. It’s footage of The Clash in Scotland during the 16 Tons Tour, though there’s some brief information about how The Clash formed. There’s a slight error though – the narrator of the video implies that Topper Headon joined The Clash in 1976. He wasn’t a member of The Clash until 1977. It’s a bit misleading if you’re not familiar with Clash history. Anyway, I just love seeing stuff like this, especially the pre-show material.  I’m nineteen years old with absolutely no chance of ever experiencing The Clash live, so I always love watching videos like this. I find even the footage of the young fans talking fascinating: it’s all glimpses to an era I’ve absolutely no experience of. The highlight of the whole video is the fan who states they’ve got no ticket, before the footage then cuts to Joe Strummer helping fans in via the window (which was a common occurrence at Clash gigs). Footage like that always reminds me why I’m so passionate about this band. I think this video is a delightful relic to be honest with you!

Video Killed The Radio Star: Joe Strummer

I’ve been having a very Clash oriented today. I re-watched some of my Clash DVDs, but I also watched something new: The Joe Strummer edition of Video Killed The Radio Star. It’s a show that airs on Sky 1 and it focuses on the creation of music videos. That there’s even a Joe Strummer edition of this show was surprising to me. Stranger still, this 30 minute program doesn’t  even focus on The Clash. It focuses on two topics: Joe Strummer’s work with The Pogues and their involvement with the film Straight To Hell. As a Pogues fan it was very interesting hearing Shane McGowan talk at length about Joe. Archival interview footage of Joe talking about The Pogues was also included. I hadn’t seen some of the interview footage before so that was a treat.  I’m not exactly sure why they focused on these two lesser known areas of Joe Strummer’s work but it makes a refreshing change. This period of Joe’s life tends to get overlooked so it’s nice to see a documentary piece that focuses squarely on that. I’d recommend it to any Clash/Pogues fan. . I haven’t got a Youtube link to the documentary so instead I’ve posted a link to Joe and The Pogues doing I Fought The Law. It’s one of my favourite Strummer performances so I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  As far as I know, the documentary will be repeated on Sky Arts over the next few days so keep your eye out!

A Trip To The Market

ImageToday was a Sunday with a difference. I went to St Georges Market, situated in Belfast city center. I had a great time. The atmosphere was great, there was a brilliant variety of stalls and the food was delicious. I had my first paella today and it was divine. Almost as divine as my trip to the vinyl stall.

It was the only record stall there, but it had such a good selection I didn’t need another stall. On display, I found a mint condition original pressing of Sandinista! by The Clash. I simply couldn’t refuse – even the original sticker was intact. It looks, quite simply, perfect. I bought it and it’s now set to became a most treasured item in my ever-growing Clash collection.

Sandinista! aside I also found a few other gems. There were a few New Order vinyls, but the one I settled on in the end was the 12″ of Confusion. Again, the condition was simply marvelous. The other vinyl I bought was Disco by Pet Shop Boys. It was perfect looking also – all the vinyls at the stall looked great really. Disco was one Pet Shop Boys vinyl I was particularly keen to get so I was delighted to find it this early. My next vinyl record trip will be on Tuesday where I’m going to Ballymena. I’ve never been there before, so it’ll certainly be something different. Very much looking forward to that!

My New Vinyl Endeavour

This is a post I’d never expect I’d ever write. I’m a heavy CD buyer, but I’ve never collected vinyl. That is, until about two weeks ago. My dad was looking at his music collection and in doing so, he unearthed his old vinyls, which he hadn’t seen in goodness knows how long. Me and Dad have a fairly similar music taste so a lot of albums I love were discovered. Tango In The Night by Fleetwood Mac, Graceland by Paul Simon and Songs From The Big Chair by Tears For Fears being just three examples. Needless to say, I was in my element.

They were just three vinyls in a larger batch he gave to me. The 12″ of Blue Monday has become a particularly prized item in my music collection. It got me thinking though because a few months ago a family friend kindly gave me about a dozen Madonna vinyls. And I have a very limited amount of vinyls myself that I bought in a now closed down vintage store here in Belfast about two years ago. I’ve no turntable so I’ve not been able to hear any of it. And I’ve always wanted one to.  Getting this influx of records has made me finally bite the bullet: at long last, I’m going to get a turntable and start a vinyl collection!

Of course, I’ll need to be limited with my vinyl. I’ve got around about 500 CDs, and there’s just no way I can possibly replicate that on vinyl. It’s just not financially feasible. So I’ve set myself some limitations. For now, I’m only going to collect Madonna, Pet Shop Boys, The Clash/Joe Strummer and Factory Records vinyls (New Order, Joy Division etc). Amazingly, it doesn’t seem too difficult to do. I’ve discovered a great shop in Belfast city centre (situated in Wellington Place) called Dragon Records. I’ve already bought about six vinyls from there. For Factory Records and The Clash/Joe Strummer, they’ll be my main source. I’ve actually already bought some Clash/Joe Strummer and New Order records from there. I’m going to a few other places in the next couple of days too. I’m looking forward to seeing how this new found hobby progresses!