Friday, February 16, 2018

Weekend Mix/This Is Radio Clash

About "Sandanista!", Robert Christgau wrote in the Village Voice, "If this is their worst-which it is, I think-they must be, er, the world's greatest rock and roll band."

After indicating I'd make a mix, I wiki'd "Sandanista", only to discover that CBS had already made a single disc out of it for radio stations and promotion, and when I returned found that Jeff beat me to it, too.
Both versions would make a good single LP, but I felt it really wanted to be a great double.

According to Joe strummer, the decision to release a triple-LP was their way of mocking CBS for resisting release of "London Calling" as a double album, then issuing Bruce Springsteen's "The River" less than a year later.

I was a Clash fan from the beginning, having fallen hard for their (US) debut.
I absolutely loathed Sandy Pearlman's production of "Give'Em Enough Rope", and didn't think much of the songs either, except for that Mott The Hoople homage, "Julie's In The Drug Squad".

But for the cover, I wasn't crazy about "London Calling" either, as Mick Jones seemed to have unfortunately discovered guitar pedals. Although the songs held up when I saw them play the Hollywood Palladium.

What really got me was the string of terrific singles released in the UK during 1978-9, "Jail Guitar Doors", "1-2 Crush On You", "White Man In Hammersmith", and "Capitol Radio" to name a few. KROQ DJ Rodney Bingenheimer played them back to back on his show, and the cassette I made of the broadcast was long my favorite Clash album (I still have it somewhere).

When "Sandanista!" dropped I was broke, and living in West LA.
A generous co-worker at my shitty 9 to 5, lent me his copy.
I quickly filled 90 minutes of tape with the highlights, skipping over boring balladry and obvious filler. I've still never heard more than 30 seconds of "Something About England", "Broadway", "Rebel Waltz", "If Music Could Talk", and "Shepherds Delight", and really just about anything not on this weekend mix.

The 80 minutes assembled here are pretty similar to that 90 minute cassette.

In a way "Sandanista!" is perfect as it is, and exactly what the group intended, a big sprawling mess.
When I make a mix of the overly familiar, I look for ways to make it fresh somehow, so I landed on making a different album entirely, using outtakes and other material.
I approached it as if hired as producer to straighten out the mess, or like Todd on "Skylarking".
In other words, WWTD?

The sessions were book-ended by two great singles that deserved to be on a proper album, rather than a compilation of odds and ends. "Bankrobber" was recorded first in the sessions that became "Sandanista!", and quickly released on the stop-gap "Black Market" ep.
"This Is Radio Clash" was recorded just after the album was mastered and released as a single, one of their best, and I thought rated as a titular kick-off.
"Stop The World" is a better song than many that made the cut.
I messed with the running order as much as I could.

The biggest liberty I took was replacing a song I don't like, "Hitsville UK", with "Torchlight", another featuring Ellen Foley, from her album "Spirit Of St Louis". Written by Strummer-Jones, played by The Clash in the same studio, with the same crew, during the same period, arranged similarly, produced by Mick Jones, and engineered by Bill Price with the same sound as "Sandanista!".
It's the only song on her album that Mick shares the lead, and I think it fits better musically and lyrically than "Hitsville".

I bought "Sandanista!"on cd in the '90's, at NYCD, of course, but I haven't really listened to it in decades.
There aren't any great bands without a great drummer, and "Tops" certainly fits the bill.
His playing on the album is consistently supple, inventive, and stylish. He really got them there.
The bands inclusiveness and heart is refreshing in today's social climate.
I've been gobsmacked this week by it's relevancy to today's political climate.
"The Leader" hits awfully close to home, while the litany of "The Magnificent Seven" has only got worse.
We need The Clash now more than ever.



This Is Radio Clash

This Is Radio Clash, too


Todd Glaeser said...

This looks fun.
What's up with the second link? It takes me to "blogger."

Dr Wu said...

Thanks, BBJ! I look forward to enjoying this.

Jobe said...

Might I suggest you give 53 seconds to the songs "Broadway" and "Rebel Waltz"

buzzbabyjesus said...

Todd-Thanks for the heads up. Last night my computer froze while making that link. Problem corrected.

Jobe- "Rebel Waltz" yes. "Broadway" is not my cup of tea.

Cow said...

I know it's all completely subjective... there's something for everyone and all that... but all these years later, I've finally come to regard Something About England as The Clash's finest moment, at least as far as lyrics go. Shockingly prescient in these days of blind nationalism and Brexit.

Anonymous said...

I learned today that the song "Should I Stay or Go" was Jones' description of his relationship with Ellen Foley. one of the stranger showbiz couples, but no denying that it made her "Spirit of St. Louis" album a singular listen.

buzzbabyjesus said...

When I listened briefly to "Something About England" while making this compilation, I could tell the lyrics were as you indicate. The whole album is like that. It's just that musically it's not much fun.

A walk in the woods said...

I may be the only person on this blog, and the only music fan in general in 2018, who really doesn't know The Clash well beyond the hits and "London's Calling" so... thanks for this curated mix. Looking forward to it!

Dr Wu said...

Your mix led me directly to two albums I love, but haven’t heard in forever: Ellen Foley’s ‘Night Out’ and Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros’ ‘Streetcore’. So, thank you for that as well, BBJ.

David said...

thank you for your time and love for music. i too love the clash, and look forward to your weekend mix - this is radio clash, this monday afternoon. thanks again!