We’ve been doing our best over lockdown to keep ourselves entertained and one way that we’ve managed to avoid boredom is by delving headfirst into the back catalogue of our favourite artists. Next up on our list, the only band that matters, The Clash.
Formed in 1976 among the burning embers of the punk rock scene, Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Heddon became one of the biggest bands of the decade and quickly enacted their political punk message wherever they could. While the Sex Pistols were the spark that sent the powder keg off, The Clash were the shrapnel.
A band willing and more than capable to tear through any audience in their wake, the group made their name by being the thinking man’s punk band. Strummer kept the band’s lyrics politically motivated and centred on social justice while Mick Jones kept them evolving musically. It was a winning combination.
Strummer first saw the Sex Pistols and the opportunity for punk to rise from the ashes of Pub Rock: “I knew something was up, so I went out in the crowd which was fairly sparse,” he once commented. “And I saw the future—with a snotty handkerchief—right in front of me. It was immediately clear. Pub rock was, ‘Hello, you bunch of drunks, I’m gonna play these boogies and I hope you like them.’ The Pistols came out that Tuesday evening and their attitude was, ‘Here’s our tunes, and we couldn’t give a flying fuck whether you like them or not. In fact, we’re gonna play them even if you fucking hate them’.”
As you might expect with a punk band, the journey didn’t last as long as we’d all hoped. With Heddon leaving in 1982, Mick Jones leaving the band in 1983, the group disbanded officially in 1986. Their comparatively small time in the spotlight was at least a truly fruitful one.
Six albums isn’t exactly a record haul for a recording artist but for a punk band, it’s almost unheard of. Through those six albums, the band pushed out a new sound which encapsulated the changing face of London. Sure they arrived with their self-titled album, full of snotty rhythm and fiery expletives but they ended with a sound closer to dub and reggae, with London Calling, of course, acting as the lightning rod.
It’s an evolution which is easy to see in the playlist below. Through 182 songs, The Clash proved they truly were the only band that mattered. The playlist below also offers something you don’t get from studio albums alone—the feeling of live music. Luckily in this playlist, we also have the live albums too.
At around eight hours long it may well be the best way to spend your day.