I read today in my newsfeed that Joe Strummer had died on this day 15 years ago in 2002. Since this album is 35 years old it is kind of a double tribute.
In 1982 I remember visiting my older cousins in the city. They were fully entrenched in the New Wave scene at the time. I got to hang out with them and a group of their friends, and I was the outcast. I wore jeans, hi tops, a concert shirt and had long hair, while they looked like they came out of a Flock Of Seagulls video. I was a metalhead, and I didn’t fit into their clique. I don’t remember much about that night but I do remember the music. When the needle dropped on Combat Rock, I sat up and noticed. This wasn’t metal, but there was something cool about it. Looking back, it was an album that wavers, arena rockers, metalheads, punks and rastas could all appreciate.
Know Your Rights – “This is a public service announcement. WITH GUITAR!” I like those kind of public announcements.
Car Jamming – The drumming on this one is wicked, and the reggae beat of the guitar is cool.
Should I Stay or Should I Go? – I do tire of hearing this song every day on the radio, but I do respect it. Overplayed yes, but there is no denying that it has lasted this long on radio for a reason.
Rock Casbah – See comments on song above.
Red Angel Dragnet – It has sort of a Talking Heads thing going on, and I like it. The spoken word also quotes the great movie Taxi Driver, so it also has that going for it.
Straight To Hell – A sort of protest song about mistreatment of the “boat people”. Walk softly and carry a big stick must be Joe’s motto.
Overpowered By Funk – In 1982 Funk=Punk as far as both being out of fashion. That didn’t stop The Clash from funkifying a punk song. It may the first punk song to feature rapping with the addition of guest Futura 2000.
Atom Tan – This song reminds me of a Bowie song mixed with some Joe Perry licks from Chip Away The Stone, and of course that’s a good thing.
Sean Flynn – The subtle, multi-layered sax and pounding drums dominate this song. It’s a tribute to Errol Flynn’s son, Sean, who was a journalist during the Vietnam War. He was taken prisoner in 1970 and never seen again.
Ghetto Defendant – Alan Ginsberg provide guest vocals on this one. He originally had wanted to get The Clash to add music to some of his recordings, but the opposite happened. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during conversations that may have arose during these sessions. Apparently there were other recordings during these sessions, but they have never seen the light of day.
Inoculated City – There is a part in the middle of the song that features a recording of the toilet bowl cleaner 2000 Flushes. I have no idea why.
Death Is A Star – This song is a sort of protest song to violence in the movies. This song that has a sort of 1920’s jazz feel to it. It is an unfitting ending to an otherwise great album. Not actually a bad song, but it just seems out of place, and sort of a lacklustre ending to the album.