After their formation in 1976, The Clash, fronted by Mick Jones and Joe Strummer, became the first London punk group to rival the Sex Pistols. Their naturally crude sound developed over the latter half of the 1970s into a formula of punk-infused reggae with a sprinkle of dub, funk and rockabilly. This winning combination pushed them to the height of post-punk fame and secured them a place in rock ‘n’ roll history.
In the early days, The Clash did the rounds, playing in any dingey pubs and small music venues around England that would admit an up-and-coming punk group. In July 1976, they gave their debut performance in Sheffield, supporting the Sex Pistols. In just a few short weeks over that summer, The Clash had become a prominent force in the punk scene, riding in the wake of the Sex Pistols alongside Manchester outfit Buzzcocks.
While The Clash were associated with the punk movement, their unique sound was versatile thanks to their eclectic musical tastes. By the late 1970s, they became much more than merely a punk group and were among the most important acts of the so-called new wave or post-punk era. Prominent acts of the 1980s, including Echo and the Bunnymen, Aztec Camera, U2, and The Specials, all later described The Clash as a key influence.
While it would be reasonable to assume that The Clash, like most other punk groups, would cite American proto-punk acts like The Ramones, The Stooges and The New York Dolls as major influences, their tastes seemed to lie a lot closer to home.
In a 2004 interview published in The Observer, The Clash’s lead guitarist, Mick Jones, discussed some of the artists and albums that influenced him most as a musician. It’s immediately apparent that the 1960s psychedelic rock and British invasion roster held most of Jones’ favourite music.
For the feature, Jones picked out classic albums by The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, The Who, The Kinks and The Beatles. He also showed some love for the glam era, dusting off David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars and Mott the Hoople’s Wildlife.
After a sprawl of classic ‘60s and ‘70s classics, Jones saved one space on his list for a modern band. For this selection, he chose The Libertines and their eponymous 2004 album, which was hot off the press at the time. He described the record as “a future classic – believe. All-time great.”
Jones’ choice will raise few eyebrows given the sizeable dose of punk in The Libertines’ DNA. That said, in his assertion, Jones might have seemed a little hasty, but given more time, the album has indeed stood the test of time. This second studio album by Pete Doherty and Co. remains their unparalleled masterpiece, with many listing it among the finest indie records since the turn of the century.
Listen to one of the album’s most memorable moments, ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’, below.