Great clip of the Clash playing Complete Control on French TV in 1977In August 1977, 12 days after Elvis had died and at the height of punk rock, the Clash went to France with the intention of recording a couple of songs for French TV.

The first song was London Burning and then this version of Complete Control which saw the band sounding at the top of their punk rock game with a twitching and compulsive performance.

This is an object lesson how to play punk rock- British style. There is none of the power chords and the rockier take on what punk became in the future. Instead, this is a fantastically scratching rush of sound with Joe’s machine gun telecaster really making a difference and Mick peeling off a great guitar solo.

It’s also more proof, if it was ever needed, of the musicality of punk rock- these bands really could play and the rhythm section is spot on underpinning Joe’s urgent vocal plea which seems to be exploring a slightly different melody from the single which had been recorded a few weeks before.

The band really deliver the song as well- Mick looks great with every rock n roll pose fired out on his stick thin legs and oozing total attitude whilst Paul looks pop star cool in his netting top stitched together from scraps of cloth bought from the now shut Lawrence Corner shop near Euston station whilst Joe seems to be wearing one of the bass players cast off silk screen t shirts.

This was the Clash in their punk rock finery and at their stripped down punk best- that is a punk rock as a stand-alone style of music of its own and not a rock music at all but something else.

The song , of course, is one of their finest moments and it’s great to hear a fresh new version of it delivered so perfectly.

This is a classic clip.


Thanks to james Endeacott and his great blog for the clip.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.



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