By Gillian Gaar
On April 8, 1977, the British punk act the Clash released its debut album on CBS Records in the UK. Simply titled “The Clash,” the album featured 14 cuts in the short-sharp-shock tradition of the day, most of which ran under two-and-a-half minutes. Though the British fanzine Sniffin’ Glue lamented “Punk died the day the Clash signed to CBS,” the album has gone on to become a classic of the punk era
. At the time of its release, it reached No. 12 in the U.K., and has since regularly landed on “Best Punk Albums” lists in both U.S. and U.K. publications. Once heralded as “The only band that matters” in an early promotional slogan, it’s clear that the band’s legacy still matters to music fans today.
Now U.S. fans will be able to experience “The Clash” in both its original format — vinyl — and its original U.K. running order (which differed greatly from the U.S. version of the album) with a new reissue on Omaha, Neb.,-based Drastic Plastic Records. “When we decided to actively pursue bringing classic punk and post-punk titles back into print on vinyl we wanted to begin with something essential, as well as a recording that we all felt personally close to,” explains Neil Azevedo, general manager, A&R, at Drastic Plastic. “The Clash’s debut was our top choice.”
The original album came out more than 30 years ago; now, 21st century music fans can be introduced (or re-introduced) to the band’s timeless brand of righteous punk rock.
The Clash came together in 1976, as a new generation was in the process of transforming the musical landscape in Britain. John Graham Mellor was a member of that new generation, a rock fan who’d dropped out of art school to become a musician. His first band, The Vultures, was based in Wales; when that group broke up in 1974, he moved to London and formed pub-rock outfit The 101’ers, named after the address where the band members squatted, in an abandoned house. Mellor, guitarist and vocalist in the band, had by then taken on the nickname “Woody,” after Woody Guthrie, and by mid-1975, he’d adopted a new name, Joe Strummer. It was part of a continual process of crafting a new identity; John Mellor came from a well-off family and had been sent to private school. “Joe Strummer” was a name, and a personality, that had more street credibility. Read more>>