Saturday, 28 July 2018
The Clash - Black Market Clash and Super Black Market Clash
This review covers both “Black Market Clash” and its expanded edition “Super Black Market Clash”. Both were complications of Clash non-album tracks, singles and ‘b’ sides. Excellent they were, too.
“1977” was taken as a call to arms for the punk movement, eschewing all rock bands that had been before - “no Elvis, Beatles or Rolling Stones in 1977” growled Joe Strummer over a choppy, riff-driven guitar backing. Strange that Mick Jones was a fan of Keith Richards, and had a lot of Richards about his look at times, and also that within a couple of years, The Clash would be recording music that utilised influences from pretty every type of popular music that had ever been. That said, it was a great track - those drum rolls and the “danger, danger” refrain. “Listen” is actually a pretty convincing, albeit simple instrumental, featuring some good Mick Jones guitar. The original “Capital Radio” was a classic punk single - riff-dominated, vocals spat out, expressing a perceived grievance - here with Capitol Radio’s refusal to play punk records.
“Complete Control” was a superb single. Starting with a blistering guitar intro it tells of the band’s frustration, firstly with CBS wanting to release “Remote Control” as a single and then with their mates not being able to get into their gigs. It has one of those classic Mick Jones riffs - “You're my guitar hero” indeed. It loses a bit of momentum a bit in the middle at the “I won’t judge you” point and also in the fade out, but no real matter. It was, and is, a Clash classic. The live version that opens “From Here To Eternity” is awesome. “City Of The Dead” is a powerful, grinding track that would have been great on the first album, or on “Give ‘Em Enough Rope” for that matter. It utilises saxophone for the first time on a Clash recording, I believe.
Stabbing guitar chops introduce the searing “Clash City Rockers” and Joe proceeds to rant about “old Bowie” and so on. “Jail Guitar Doors” is a Stonesy rocker that namechecks Keith Richards. The sentiments of “1977” didn’t take long to wear off, it seems.
One of THE songs that instantly makes me remember the summer of 1978 and subsequent gigs over the next few years, indeed the whole punk/new wave era was the mighty “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais” - a wonderful slice of white punky reggae introduced by Jones’s “one, two free, four” and Strummer’s classic first verse bemoaning the lack of crucial dub and rebel music being played at a reggae gig he attended at Hammersmith Palais. The track is full of atmosphere and some classic lines - “if Adolf Hitler flew in today, they’d send a limousine anyway…” and “they think it’s funny, turning rebellion into money…” to name just two. Top, top track. Its ‘b” side was a corker too - “The Prisoner” is a breakneck punk romp with garbled, almost incomprehensible lyrics - “the prisoner meets the muppet hi-fi north of Watford Junction…”; ”Johnny Too Bad meets Johnny B. Goode on the Charing Cross Road…”. Despite not knowing what the hell it was about, there is a real vibe to it and one hell of an atmosphere. I have always loved this one.
Mick Jones’ “1-2 Crush On You” is not his best, to be honest, and the covers of Booker T. & The MGs’ “Time Is Tight” and Toots & The Maytals’ “Pressure Drop” are not convincing, it has to be said. Both “Groovy Times” and “Gates Of The West” start to show that the move away from punk to a broader sphere of influence was coming, and both “Armagideon Time” and “Bankrobber” are marvellous white reggae tunes, particularly the former, a cover of an authentic Willie Williams reggae classic. “I Fought The Law” speaks for itself. Clash power at its very best. For more of the same check out "Capital Radio Two". Magnificent.
The remainder of the tracks really show the band’s departure into other styles of music, most of them are dance/hip-hop influenced such as “Radio Clash” and various remixes of songs such as "The Magnificent Seven”. I have always had a weakness for the moody and evocative “First Night Back In London” from the “Combat Rock” era.
These albums just show what a wealth of non-album gems there were within The Clash’s body of work.
These albums are not available on streaming services, but the tracks are all on the "Sound System" box set, the link is below:-