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 2014: Arcade Fire, Blondie + What’s To Come

Afternoon all – things are set to get very busy on the blog over the next three days because Glastonbury 2014 is now officially underway. I’m not there (obviously) but thank goodness for BBC coverage, Youtube and iPlayer, and I’ll have a better view than most actually attending the festival to boot. That’s what being 4ft 8 does to you. You can’t deny the internet can be a life-saver at times though!

Anyway, due to errands I haven’t caught any of the performances yet except for a snippet of Blondie who performed earlier. They sounded great which I was thrilled to see as Ghost Of Download I found to be very disappointing. Hopefully the live performances of the new material will improve my opinions of it somewhat. There’s a lot of artists I’m looking forward to seeing today actually: Foster The People, Chrvches and M.I.A being another few, and tomorrow and Sunday has plenty also. Honestly, me and my brother have been paying such close attention to the stream and who’s next etc it’s almost like being there in that regard.

Above all though the main act I’m looking forward to is Arcade Fire, who headline the pyramid festival for the first time. I’ve only gotten into their music within the last few months and this will really be the first time I’ve watched a complete live performance of theirs. Reflektor has become a belated addition to my best albums of 2013 list and I can’t wait to see how it sounds live (I’m expecting it to be great). Left of field is what I’m expecting from them really so I hope they deliver on that front. Of course I would adore it for David Bowie to fulfill his cameo role on ‘Reflektor’ live but that will almost certainly not happen. Much more likely to happen though is my wish they’ll throw in one of their Clash cover versions that they often do. ‘I’m So Bored With The USA’ featured a fair amount on their set-list at the end of 2013. I’d even really love to see their version of ‘The Guns Of Brixton’, though that appears to have been covered more in the mid-2000s. It’s such a bizarre version that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I really like it. It’s certainly unique. Given that it’s an English festival, I think they probably will perform a Clash cover. It’s certainly the right location for such a tribute.

I’ll be up for the live coverage on BBC1 this evening. I’ll be doing that for both Metallica tomorrow and Kasabian on Sunday too – it’s the first time I’ve wanted to see all three headline acts actually. I’m also looking forward to seeing what new bands I discover thanks to the festival too. In any case, you’ll be hearing a lot from me these next few days!

As a footnote – I just want to say that my blog has saw a real surge in views recently – so thank you so much to everyone who takes the time to read what I’ve got to say! I really appreciate it!

Mick Jones Turns 59

As today marks his 59th birthday, it would be careless of me not to post something in relation to Mick Jones. An extremely gifted musician who in so many ways was the soul of The Clash. No one member of  The Clash carried the group exclusively, but without Mick Jones the group were considerably poorer, if not outright disfunctional – just look at the regrettable Cut The Crap album.  His brilliant studio prowess enabled Joe Strummer’s visionary lyrics to manifest into timeless songs. Of course, Mick was no slouch as a songwriter either. He wrote classics such as ‘Stay Free’, ‘Train In Vain’ and ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go?’. Perhaps greatest of all though is the classic punk single ‘Complete Control’. It’s a rare Clash song in that it’s written by Jones, yet sang by Strummer. Mick wrote it as a ferocious response to CBS releasing ‘Remote Control’ as a single without the band’s prior consent. It’s an impassioned and scathing commentary against  artistic oppression and stands up as one of the greatest punk singles of all time – it’s certainly my favourite punk song from The Clash. The song fires on all cylinders and Joe Strummer was expressing the sentiments of thousands, if not millions, when he bellows “you’re my guitar hero!”, directed at Mick, during the guitar solo. He’s much more than The Clash’s guitarist and tune-smith though – I’ve not even touched upon the innovative music Mick made following The Clash with projects such as Big Audio Dynamite for brevity’s sake. In all of his various projects though his vision and strong desire to always push himself creatively is always prevalent. And, may there be many more years of it to come – happy birthday Mick!

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!