The Clash, Combat Rock, Joe Strummer, Allen Ginsberg, Straight to Hell, MIA, Paper Planes

#tbt The Clash / Combat Rock (1982)

By Randy Nieto
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Being labeled “The Only Band That Matters” would be enough pressure for most bands to live with, but The Clash earned it in their own right. Known for writing left wing anthems and even titling one of their albums Sandinista! (celebrating the left-wing rebels who had recently overthrown Nicaraguan despot Anastasio Somoza Debayle), the Clash continued to write politically charged songs on Combat Rock, most notably Straight to Hell, which was sampled by M.I.A. for her song “Paper Planes”. Politics aside, Combat Rock is actually my favorite Clash record. London Calling gets all the attention, as it should because it has some of the best songs they have ever written, not to mention that cool Elvis inspired cover with Paul smashing his bass guitar, but song for song I have always liked Combat Rock best. Sometimes jangly, sometimes soaring, Combat Rock represents The Clash when they were at the peak of their songwriting abilities. Unafraid to let the music speak for itself, they moved away from the shorter punk and pop rock and experimented writing longer songs, without losing touch of their punk and reggae roots. Ghetto Defendant features Allen Ginsberg speaking poetry while Joe Strummer sings political verses over  Paul Simonon’s dub-inspired bass. While The Clash might be labeled The Only Band That Matters for their political ideology, they are the only band that matters to me for writing some of the best music to come out of the 20th century, even inspiring bands who are still sampling their music 30 years on. Check out Ghetto Defendant below.

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