“The only band that matters” once said CBS employee Gary Lucas of The Clash. This statement came shortly after the band had signed a somewhat lucrative deal with the ‘big-time’ CBS Records and in the eyes of many had ‘sold out’.
Editor of the ultimate punk fanzine Sniffin’ Glue said “Punk died the day The Clash signed for CBS” and although that may be true with regards to the grassroots anarchic movement, the deal actually put punk on the map, spread the word and got kids from all walks of life dying their hair and piercing their nose, almost over night.
In 1977 punk was at it’s fervent height, propelled by bands pushing the boundaries The Clash were touring across the country with their debut LP The Clash in tow. Alongside this they had balls, brattiness and a keen sense of what was to come.
In the videos below the band performs at Sussex University Brighton on May 25, 1977. This show, part of the White Riot Tour, marks the beginning of their time with CBS, shortly after the release of debut album, The Clash. It also saw the intergration of new band member Topper Headon on drums following Tony Grimes’ departure.
The footage is grainy as all hell and the audio doesn’t hold much water either but one thing is clear as day in these clips. The Clash were always at the top of their game when they were in front of the crowd.
As Strummer gets the crowd ready and highlights the need to “matter” he unleashes “Okay, ‘Capital Radio’… with words that mean something” and plows, along with the rest of the band in to the track and the set. A set which features ‘White Riot’, ‘Police and Thieves’ as well as ‘Cheat’ and ‘Remote Control’.
Despite the poor audio and editing choices the footage is a keen piece of archival film not only documenting The Clash and the start of their whirlwind journey, but also a cultural, social and political sea-change in late-seventies Britain. They’re still “the only band that matters”.
Take a look below.