This album is the last good album by Punk Rock musicians The Clash. They had a stream of successful singles and albums prior to this release, and this album is no different. Let’s take a listen to the music here, and see how good it is.
We kick off with Know Your Rights which has a reggae feel to it. It is a call to arms to those who follow The Clash and who like their music. The lyrics here are interesting, and musically it is a great listening experience. Drawing on Rock music tradition, there is an oddly Jimi Hendrix sort of guitar solo in the middle. Very catchy and very melodic, this is an awesome tune to begin the album with. Terrific stuff. The guitar parts in particular are awesome.
Next is Car Jamming which begins with some good percussion, before launching into a piece where Joe Strummer articulately expresses his political viewpoints. It’s a weird sounding piece, and although obviously not a hit single, is an interesting and rather odd listen. Still, it is another good piece to hear and The Clash do well at this point. An excellent tune, and worth hearing. Good tune, and also worth hearing. Weird and wonderful.
Should I Stay Or Should I Go is The Clash’s best known song. It begins with some excellent electric guitars, before launching into a brilliant Punk Pop music piece that has not aged at all. It’s about relationship and what some partners do to each other. The playing, lyrics and overall feel of this song are really top. Great song, and once again, worth your time for sure. Great from start to finish.
Rock The Casbah is actually based on real life events in the Middle East, where one of the leaders banned Rock music, which no doubt went down well with some musicians there. This is another great song, with catchy piano and a great Pop music feel to it. Excellent music, and a shining moment on this album that is top notch and that has an awesome feel to it, this is a great listen. Catchy, awesome and realistic, this is another quality song. A must listen from this album.
Next is Red Angel Dragnet which has a really odd sound and feel to it. It’s a weird and unusual piece that sounds nonsensical. It’s not outright bad at all, just straight out weird. Likely a political song about the gap between the government and governed, it talks about the low lives who occupy the streets. Wacky, but although this is a good piece, too unusual for radio. Good, but weird.
Following is Straight To Hell which is really odd sounding, especially for a band such as The Clash. Being rather lengthy at over five minutes long, it begins with some really weird guitar parts and surrounding noises. It’s odd, but given the musical context of the time, somewhat unsurprising. Some equally odd lyrics about English tradition are here which are quite dated. It’s likely (knowing Joe Strummer) a statement about Thatcherism. Talking about the aftermath of the Vietnam War, it is not a nice listening experience lyrically, and seems like a chore musically. Still, a good but not great listening experience here. It’s a reminder of what war and injustice can do to human beings. The percussion towards the end is pretty cool, however. But still, it is lacking.
Overpowered By Funk is cool and catchy. It’s likely filler, but really good filler at that. Sounding truly amazing, even in retrospect, it is proto-EDM stuff that is danceable and fun listening. Sure, this is not a perfect album listen, but this is one of the better sounds and listens from the album. A quirky and original piece, with multitracked guitars, this is actually pretty cool. Nice to hear. It is pretty dated, but then again, so is the rest of the album. Cool stuff though. The outro is really wacky.
Atom Tan talks more explictly politically. Unless you are notably a leftist, this could be tiresome. Still, musically it is merely a continuation of the previous song but is good, although maybe short of great. A decent listening experience nonetheless. Good but a bit much at times, it is short but interesting.
Next is Sean Flynn which starts off with some excellent guitar and flute instrumenrtation. Unfortunately, as good as this is, the album is not overly song based like the best work by The Clash is. It’s more textured based, and sounds recycled even, which is sad in retrospect. A great piece from an instrumentation side of things, but hardly essential Clash. Nice for a change once in a while, though. There is some really nice saxophone here though. It goes spacey in a very 1960s way towards the end, a gentle and soothing listen. A bit too long though as well.
Following is Ghetto Defendant which has a more mainstream music sensibility about it, but is honestly trash. A good and interesting musical listen, but that’s about it. It’s not a great song or an overwhelmingly good listening experience, it sounds like The Clash are wasting musical time by the point of this recording. Still, there are some nice musical touches to it. Good but once again, too long to really enjoy this song. Joe Strummer’s guitar work on this album is really. It’s the musical equivalent of the proverbial, or simply not necessary. The Clash could, and did, better than this. People know that.
Inoculated City is a strange tune that one can imagine men in Hawaiian shirts would love. It is a better listen, although the lyrics quite clearly don’t match the music here. Sadly, being 100% political on recording does not always work. Politics is good and all, but like most political things, there is a time and place for it, not 100% so. The sample of a morning TV ad is just ridiculous, and not necessary on this song, it’s just out of place. Weird.
Death Is A Star is the last track on this album, and although is imaginative and picturesque, this doesn’t seem to fit The Clash’s objectives of being evolutionary Punk Rockers. This could have been chopped from the recording totally. If you hear this song, you’ll definitely understand why.
So, there you have it. A mishmash of great songs, good songs and some terrible songs. This was the beginning of the end of The Clash, and the events that came later on proved that. Still, this is good nostalgia and any fan of the group should hear this recording, even if it is patchy.