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The Clash - The Only Band That Ever Mattered

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The Clash - The Only Band That Ever Mattered

London Calling

Formed:

London, 1976

Original Lineup:


Joe Strummer - guitar, vocals
Mick Jones - guitar, vocals
Paul Simonon - bass
Keith Levene - guitar
Terry Chimes - drums

The Early Days:

Like many of the early bands in the London scene, The Clash formed shortly after the Sex Pistols. Their first performance was opening up for them.

Within months, the band had a record deal. Although Levene and Chimes left after just a few gigs, Chimes was brought back to record their first album.

The debut album The Clash was released in the UK in 1977. It didn't see a US release until 1979, after it had become the best-selling import album of all time in the US.

Finding The Proper Lineup:

After the release of the first album, Chimes left the band again on good terms. The Clash then cycled through a few drummers, before finally settling on Nicholas Bowen Headon, nicknamed "Topper", because the band thought he resembled a cartoon monkey.

This is the most famous Clash lineup. They met the most success and recorded the band's best albums. This lineup lasted until 1982.

Successful Albums:

The band's next album, 1978's Give 'Em Enough Rope, was the first to feature Headon, as well as the first to be released in the US. The Clash toured the US to support it, and then followed up with their next album, London Calling, in 1979.

London Calling is not only considered the Clash's best album, it's often considered one of the best rock albums of all time. In addition to punk, the band experimented with ska and reggae, and helped unite these sounds for later bands.

Experimentation Followed by Commercial Success:

The Clash followed up London Calling with Sandinista! in 1980. A triple album, Sandinista! saw the band experimenting with a range of sounds, including heavy use of reggae beats and rhythms.

Sandinista! met limited success, mainly because Clash fans didn't understand it. However, their next album, 1982's Combat Rock was an instant commercial success. Combat Rock featured what would become the band's best known songs, including "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" and "Rock the Casbah".

Breaking Up The Band:

Coping with an addiction to heroin, Headon left the band shortly before Combat Rock was released. Original drummer Terry Chimes returned to tour with the band, the left in 1983, to be replaced by Pete Howard.

The band was undergoing internal disagreements at this time, and arguments led to Jones being kicked out of the band. He was replaced by two guitarists, Nick Sheppard and Vince White, and the new lineup of the Clash decided to record another album. This would prove disastrous.

The Clash Cut The Crap :

Released in 1985 with the new lineup, Cut The Crap is widely considered to be the Clash's worst album. This was the last straw for the band, and they dissolved.

Following the breakup of the Clash, Jones formed Big Audio Dynamite (BAD), which was successful for several years and now is part of the duo Carbon/Silicon with Tony James of Generation X. Strummer (after co-writing and producing some early BAD songs) went on to form Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, who he recorded and toured with until his death of a heart attack in 2002.

The Clash were inducted into the the Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame in 2003.

Essential Recording:


London Calling
Considered by many to be one of the best albums of all time, 1979's London Calling is the Clash's finest moment. From "London Calling", the opening track to "Train in Vain" at the end, every song is a rock and roll masterpiece.

This album also saw the early days of the Clash's experimentation with reggae, before they took it too far in later albums. Tracks such as "Rudie Can't Fail", with their forays into Jamaican rhythms, were interesting for their time and still hold up now.

Discography:


The Clash (1977)
Give' em Enough Rope (1978)
London Calling (1979)
Sandinista! (1980)
Combat Rock (1982)
Cut the Crap (1985)
The Story of the Clash, Vol. 1 (1988: )
The Clash, The Singles (1991)
From Here to Eternity: Live (1999)

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