Jeremy Gluck (Barracudas) : my top 10 favourite albums : number 9 : The Clash
The Clash – The Clash
(For number 10 in Jeremy Gluck’t top 10 favourite albums please go here)
Although by 1978 the basis and best of punk had already come and gone, for me London when I landed there was a magical place. My band rehearsed in dumps – one of which, a squat off Edgware Road, in Daventry Street, for a time housed Joe Strummer – and played in dumpy pubs. Strummer asked me for some speed, sauntering down a peeling hallway. Strummer was the British Springsteen, an Orwell rather than Guthrie, middle class crash, with a heart of ideological gold. The politics, the passion: when Citizen Joe bellows “This is Joe Public speaking!” he owns and absorbs a micro-century of tradition.
But even before “Complete Control” (to me the greatest British punk single of them all) The Clash, needless to say, had taken the pantheon by storm. With their strange combination of incendiary calculation and brute musical force, this band had it all. Not only was Strummer in the grandest tradition of singers-who-can’t-sing (he sounds perennially at the mercy of virulent tonsillitis), in Jones and Simonon they had pin-ups to beat the Bowie, making for a Who-like three-up-front-plus-one-in-the-back formation designed to total the mind, body and heart on contact The debut Clash album sounds incredible, and more so with each passing year. Gritty, frenzied, produced in a wheelie bin filled with broken glass, trebly, squalling, sometimes amateurish yet simultaneously instantly accomplished and imperious, its very British, join-this-queue dispatch of one instant classic after another is breathtaking. “Garageland” is an anthem. Hell, they are all anthems. The whole album is long punk anthem, and almost a service in the religious sense. If you’re going to make a debut album “The Clash” is the way to do it: make one that makes everybody who hears it on contact feels they need no other album.