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Combat Rock - The Clash
Member Name: m_illie
Combat Rock - The Clash
Advantages: Excellent vocals and lyrics, great music, varied, some amazing tracks
Disadvantages: Some are let downs but still enjoyable
Know Your Rights - This song is not necessarily well known outside of Clash fans yet I personally think it is one of their greatest. A statement on society and our own ignorance with what we really have personal freedom over, it is a marvel of music as well as politics. A particularly poignant line I enjoy in the song (and one I have splattered across a t shirt of mine) is "You have the right to free speech as long as you're not dumb enough to actually try it". Although I'm not one to really listen to music for the sake of societal enlightenment I do feel that the so called message behind this particular song is a strong one as although we feel so compelled we do in fact have free speech more and more often are people rallying against the dreaded "political correctness" and also are arrested for comments they post on the internet. Whilst I am not a tyranny of such pursuits, I do think it worth mentioning as a theory at the very least. The song has the typical steady base line and the drivel of Joe Strummer, the bands vocalist, goes on throughout the song. While not necessarily a champion of music all in itself any music lover cannot escape the excellent guitar riffs as well as the distinct rhthym and creativity of the track.
Car Jamming - The intro in this one is particularly attention drawing, although I must admit this song does sometimes fail to capture my attention. Joe Strummer executes the vocals in his tyical quite iconic non-English, barely translatable diction and Paul Simonon (the band's bass player - hired for his dress sense and then taught to play guitar!) provides backing. A less aggressive song with a more mellow chorus yet still energised almost solely by Strummer. An ok song but not one I would say did not live up to the Clash name.
Should I Stay or Should I Go? - An iconic song of British punk rock and for some reason often heralded as the Clash's best song (this or perhaps London Calling) SISOSIG is nonetheless a great song that does not let down. It had been said that the Clash sometimes make the mistake of organising all of their 'best' songs at the front of the album and this sometimes puts people off, but in my humble opinion it draws people in and enables them to listen to the less known, and definitely not less successful, tracks and appreciate what I would describe as the true clash. Not entirely gimmicky (and not that well dressed either!) the Clash extend their gritty punk rock name and this song exceeds the success of the album, probably being familiar to near all of us due to its constant appearance in films and adverts and not because we all coincidentally happened to listen to this album. In my opinion this song is quite mainstream in terms of Clash sound and no wonder it achieved such popularity. Not a favourite song of mine due to what I would name as repetitive riffs and vague lyrics which when paired with other more poignant ones falls flat.
Rock the Casbah - Perhaps one of my favourite songs and probably losing me many cool factors, this song is a triumph of disco sound and political lyrics. The entire band contribute and are all distinct and excellent. A song that resembles funk, it brances away from their punk name and shows that the Clash are virtuosos of all genres. One of their greatest songs and yet tragically one of their least known, Rock the Casbah is excellent on all fronts.
Red Angel Dragnet - This is not necessarily a great song but rather a way to showcase the band's drummer Topper Headon's excellent and very skilled technique. I must admit I don't really like this song, but it makes for a nice transition into the next song...
Straight to Hell - Undoubtedly my favourite Clash song Straight to Hell acts as a crescendo to the album. A very jolting and what I would describe as perhaps a little awkward song, the lyrics and the music are a great match and never fail to make me feel a little emotional (which is weird as this is probably the only song that can do so). The song is said to be about injustice (as many of the Clash's songs are) and quite obviously the Vietnam War also. Tragic lines such as "Amerisian Blues", which reference orphaned children, and xenophobia towards immigrants are enough to pervade even a heart of stone. This song is often sampled (much to my dismay by the female rapper M.I.A.) and even was covered by Lily Allen and the band's lead guitarist Mick Jones who happens to be the god daughter of the late Joe Strummer. She undoubtedly does the song justice and fits in with its awkward and yet beautiful sound allowed by the lyrics. Reminscent of the Stranglers with its background violins and haunting orchestra sound, this song shows the band at its best, this song alone is enough to buy the album.
Overpowered By Funk - Again more funk for this album, reinforcing the idea that the band can showcase a huge variety of sounds. Quite a lengthy song but still a fun, lively one this is really one to show off the band's talent if anything. A funky song but coming in far up the rear of my favourite tracks.
Sean Flynn - Not necessarily punk but not really anything else either. This ones a bit jazzy but also quite consistent and not one I really enjoy all that much. This song pretty much serves as a transition into the ending of the album and is quite inoffensive and also uninteresting too.
Ghetto Defendant - A song that kind of faulters musically and although Strummer is known for sometimes being completely off the wall vocally, this song just is a little too much for me and one I don't particularly enjoy all that much either.
Inoculated City - The penultimate song features vocals from both Strummer and Jones and the harmony is excellent as always and is a sound I really enjoy. An eclectic mix of sounds that enjoys Jones at the very end also. A decent enough effort.
Death Is A Star - The final track on the album is definitely pretty different and introduces us to the 'new' Clash that would yet follow. Quite sombre and haunting the piano accompaniment is excellent as are the vocals and story. This song is not one of their best, but I don't this its bad either, just like I say not THE best. A good ending to a great album.
This is an album I enjoyed with many great tracks that outweight the slightly poorer ones. Being home to two of my favourite songs and not just from this band, I cannot help but reward the album at least 4/5 stars. However the less successful songs are probably only so due to how far they stray from the norm and that maybe I'm not comfortable with this as I see the band as being a very distinctive way. This then isn't necessarily a reflection on the songs but rather my own thoughts. A good album with many catchy, thought provoking and different sounding tracks. A great buy.
Joe Strummer- Vocals, Guitar
Mick Jones- Lead Guitar, Vocals
Paul Simonon- Bass, Vocals
Topper Headon- Drums
Summary: A very good album by one of my favourite bands