At the dawn of the 1980s, most of the first wave of Punk music bands were long gone. However originating from that movement, The Clash were here to stay and continued making new music. After releasing their best album London Calling, The Clash decided to keep the fire burning by releasing this album, a triple album. It was seen as not as good as London Calling by many critics and listeners, yet we will put that claim to the test by reviewing this album, so let’s get stuck into it.
We begin with The Magnificent Seven which has a neat and awesomely played Funky bassline and a Reggae feel to this song. Very catchy from the start, Joe Strummer sings about the dreary grind of urban life. This is actually a really great listen, and it sounds very different to what the The Clash had recorded before. It’s a satirical piece, but a very good one at that. A neat call-and-response vocal part is here as well. If this is Punk urban poetry, The Clash do a great job of this artistry. Musically it is an excellent tune, very sonically accomplished and great to hear, with a variety of new sounds and sound effects here. A great and empowering piece of music. The jam at the end is cool, too.
Following is Hitsville U.K. which begins with an odd organ sound, before bass guitar kicks off a rather dated sounding piece, mostly with the backing vocals here. This one is nothing super special, and is probably worth skipping, being more texture based than an actual song here. The midsection is pretty catchy, this piece probably would have been better off being an instrumental, to be fair. Good, but certainly not great. Seemingly pointless a piece, however. It is also too long for such a song, at four and a half minutes long for the same thing over and over again.
Junco Partner begins with some strange meshed up melodies, before going into an actual song this time. Which is a relief. Once again sounding very much influenced by Reggae music, this is an odd listen, but decently so. It is still heavily based on musical textures rather than actual song craftsmanship. Which is a flaw of both this record and The Clash’s music at times. Still, it’s decent enough with the fiddle in the background adding some flavour to this track, but otherwise, nothing special once again. Some great semi-screaming vocally is here as well, but although this is an open minded mesh of music, there is nothing special about this piece, sadly. The Clash could do better than this, and they probably knew it.
Ivan Meets G.I. Joe comes next and has a weird intro, before launching into a piano and saxophone led piece. Once again, although this is a good effort, it is more texture based than a good listening experience overall. The song is ruined by a load of samples and sound effects here, and it seems that The Clash have lost their focus on this record. Interesting, but not worth a repeat listen, sadly. Pretty wacky piece of music. The delayed drums at the end are cool.
Next is The Leader which is much shorter and has some processed electric guitars, before launching into a more classic Rock upbeat sounding tune. Singing about the political leader of the day, likely Conservative UK PM Margaret Thatcher, this is an odd one. Good for less than two minutes long though.
Following is Something About England is a satirical piece from The Clash about their home country and it is a strange piece of cynicism. A better song from this album, yet once again, less a song based piece and more a piece of sonic experimentation. Good and listenable, just somewhat disappointing that this is not as good as efforts before and after. The rolling drumbeats and guitar work are quite good though. Towards the end, it gets a trifle weird for this sort of song, with unusual guitar sounds here.
Rebel Waltz begins with some Fender Telecaster neck pickup sounds with a load of delay that are quite nice. A very good sound to hear. Before long, keyboard and harpsichord kick in, which add a different musical texture to the album. Horns enter as well. Eventually the band kick in after a loud cry, and we have an okay sort of song that would have been better if it were stripped down. This album sadly seems lacking and it is difficult to see how anyone who is not at least a casual fan of The Clash could enjoy this record. The outro is weird, and this is another largely forgettable piece of music.
Look Here begins with some random singing and loose vocal samples. Before long, the group kick in with a really awful Jazz wannabe sound from them. This is really disappointing, and a huge failure on the band’s part. Sure, the need for experimentation is with most Rock music groups. However, this is definitely more miss than hit here and although it is interesting, it comes across as lacking. This album should have been edited heavily, it would have saved it from being as mediocre as it is. The outro is terrible.
Next is The Crooked Beat begins with some excellent bass playing, drum parts and loose electric guitar parts. Before long, singing gets underway and the song goes along. The music here is largely forgettable, although this does sound a little better from The Clash to most of the other tracks so far on this album. The lyrics and delivery are seemingly bored here. The middle of the song has a dramatic change in it, but if this is supposed to be catchy or exciting, it definitely fails. The second half of the song is mostly instrumental, but that is okay at this point. The horn part throughout is a nice addition. A weird and rather messy piece of music, likely a bad product of drug use. It ends after five minutes with delayed vocals that do not fit the part, before segueing into the next song.
Following is Somebody Got Murdered begins with a weird mixture of clean guitars and stupid sound effects, before launching into an okay sort of song. This is actually better than what has come before, but sounds less than the best moments of The Clash and more like throwaway 1980s Pop Music. It is okay, but seriously, is this the best that the group could do at this point? Dull and ordinary from a listening perspective. The stupid sound effects here also ruin this song. The outro is rather fast and hard, particularly with the drum beat, as well.
One More Time begins with rolling drumbeats and some pseudo-Reggae singing before going into a song with moaning vocals in it. This is an improvement on what came earlier, but still feels dull and boring to hear. Sadly this album is really overblown and overproduced, and proves that the band probably were better off taking a break rather than wasting your time with this triple album. Although the Reggae influences here are nice, it leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Ordinary music, The Clash could do better here.
One More Dub comes next, and is okay from the start. It is a continuation of the previous song, and despite having a deep and dark bassline, this is not overly impressive. It is a better effort, but is not what The Clash were about. This piece would have been better off on a B-Side single. Nice to chill to, but that’s about it. This album is very underwhelming, nothing hugely special about it, just a musical joke. This piece fortunately is short.
Next up is Lightning Strikes (Not Once But Twice) begins with some stupid recording of a radio show from New York, before going into another very sub par piece by The Clash. This is a million miles away from the simplicity and consistency of their first self-titled album. This one is kind of catchy with the bass guitar riff, otherwise once again, not worth hearing and pretty forgettable. Even this piece could have been edited and redone, and this is one of the better songs here. Goodness knows what The Clash were thinking here on this album? Pathetic. Too long as well. It ends by being stuck in a scratch, what a joke.
Following is Up In Heaven (Not Only Here) comes next, and sounds better than what has come before. It is more consistent and song based than the previous tracks on this album. Once again, very forgettable and nothing overly great about this song. There are some interesting keyboard sounds here but it would have been better if there was a simpler and more focused approach to the songs here than pathetic and unfocused studio based sonic experimentation. Good, but not a great song. It fades out early and has a load of feedback, before rushing back into the song. Not impressive.
Corner Soul is a shorter piece that is okay with the typical feel of this album: Reggae guitar; unnecessary backing vocals; stupid sound effects and pathetic “sonic experimentation”. The keyboards here are not really needed, nor is the accordion. Once again, this is pretty much a joke and ordinary listening to. One can sense how easily fans of The Clash would have been disappointed by this release. Ordinary and rubbish.
Let’s Go Crazy begins with a BS sample of speech that isn’t necessary, before launching into a Hawaiian sounding piece of music that is quite comical to listen to in that respect. A better piece, but still sticking with the theme of awful experimentation on this album, it is at least slightly better here. Interesting and wacky, this is a strange oddity in The Clash’s back catalogue. At least somewhat refreshing a listen, it fades out. The vocal sample continues at the end of the track, followed by a random musical sample. Weird.
Next is If Music Could Talk which sounds a lot like UB40 at the beginning of the song. This is a better piece with good structure and a nice saxophone included in it. Beautiful, melodic and actually a good piece to hear, this is a welcome change from the nature of the earlier songs. Very good, although perhaps lacking structure about it, it is a gentle listening experience. Even so, at this point, the album is still pretty poor, although this song is definitely an improvement over the other songs on this triple album. The piano and saxophone continue all the way to the end, with some random lyrics about iconic things in western society. A better effort here.
After that is The Sound Of Sinners begins with a syncopated keyboard and singing here, before launching into an okay song with many references to Jesus and sinning. It is, once again, good but not great. It is obviously a piece about the confrontational nature of religion, this is interesting to hear lyrically. Good but overly religious in subject matter, which music should not ordinarily be, particularly Pop music. A good song, but could have been bettered. The sample at the end is not needed, either.
Police On My Back which has a guitar riff imitation of a police siren to begin with. It is a better song about being in trouble with the law. A better piece from this album, it is an interesting piece of music and lyricism here. Worth hearing from this album if you are tempted to listen to this song, it is like a modern English tale of sorts. Just a bit different than what you’d expect. It gets very loud at the end, before fading out.
Midnight Log begins with a wacky drumbeat and bass guitar, before going into an almost Elvis Presley sounding rockabilly piece that is quite short, at two minutes long. Different, this sounds like The Clash interpreting The Stray Cats or someone similar like that. It ends with harmonica and drumbeats, a bit odd.
Following is The Equaliser which begins with some really weird instrumentation and shouting from Joe Strummer. It sounds really unusual, with deep bass guitar sound and delayed vocals to match. Once again, this piece sounds more like sonic experimentation than actual song based material, which means it suffers as a result. Still, an okay listen, just not fantastic as it could have been. Not bad, although it is difficult to know what exactly The Clash were doing here on this album. Very weird listening. Fortunately, not all material by The Clash is like this. Unfortunately, this is.
After that is The Call Up which has a semi-Disco styled beat. There is some military style chanting, before launching into an anti-war statement. The song itself is a little better, but still not the best, it sounds fairly dated today. Catchy and a better piece overall melodically, this is more satisfying listening as a result. The guitar work in the background is very interesting if you listen carefully to it. Good but once again, not great to hear. This could have been edited somewhat in length as well, it is a five and a half minute long song, which is a bit much for this sort of music. Anyway, okay to hear.
Washington Bullets has a drum led intro, before going into a rather awful piece with xylophone. Why is there a xylophone on this song? No idea, but it is another song that feels like it is a drag to listen to, although the guitar work here is nice. The lyrics here are decent, the song is good but once again, another fairly ordinary listening experience compared to other works by The Clash. The title of the album is chanted here before a vocalised native American tribal sound part occurs, along with some other musical touches, such as the very loud organ at the end.
Broadway begins with some unusual sounds, before launching into an unusual piano led track that doesn’t sound catchy, hooky or properly done at all. Sadly, this is the case with this music. A really ordinary and uninspired listen, the music here lacks a certain sort of magic about it. It simply seems at though it is done for the sake of it being done, just for money’s sake, likely. Enough to send one to sleep, this track is the musical equivalent of flogging a dead horse. It goes on for far too long as well, being nearly six minutes long. Very ordinary, it fades out to have a stupid section with a child singing along to a piano part. Seriously?! What the…
Next along is Lose This Skin which begins with some quickly played violin style string section, before going into a very forgettable piece with a guest singer here. Awful, and not a very nice piece to here, this proves that this album is a joke. Terrible and trashy, there is nothing good about this piece whatsoever. Enough to make you throw your copy of this album out the window, this is horrible. Avoid at all costs. The string section goes on for a while as the solo here, before the outro that drags on. Pathetic music. The sound at the end is like fingernails down a blackboard.
Following is Charlie Don’t Surf which begins with piano that is all over the place, before some weird electronic melodies enter. The bass guitar then follows, along with electric sitar sounds. Fortunately this piece is an improvement over the last song. This is another very meh piece of music. If you want music to be completely bored by and fall asleep to, this is worth a try. More trash and not enough treasure, this is just repetitive and dull. It gets subtle towards the end, with a fade out of the main song, before it all returns. Not a great song, pretty naff.
Mensforth Hill begins with some distorted electronic sounds, before some speech followed by some backwards sounds, enters. This is like The Beatles Revolution 9, an unnecessary experimental piece. One could easily turn the record off at this point, this is really awful. Goodness knows what The Clash were doing at this point? Probably a load of drugs, there is very little to enjoy from this piece. A very rubbish effort by the group. Towards the end is a bunch of stupid samples. Groan.
Junkie Slip begins with some weird and nonsensical guitar riffing and singing over the top. This is very unlike what The Clash were about. They were supposed to be a Punk band, not messing around with tapes and electronics. Not a great song, more like a musical intermission from the previous few awful songs. This song is also contradictory to their nature as well, sadly.
After that is Kingston Advice which has muted guitar parts and some different sounding vocal parts, before launching into a better song that is seemingly politically aware. A better piece that actually sounds fairly okay, it is still on a very ordinary album by The Clash. The guitar solo here is quite good, as is the bassline. Still, another rather forgettable song in the history of music.
Following is The Street Parade which is another instrumental sort of pastiche, lacking a sense of cohesive purpose. This is another average piece that doesn’t have much longevity in it at all. The lyrics and music both sound like they could have been redone. Still, it’s okay but once again, not very quality based. The saxophone here is pretty good, mind you.
Version City is a terrible piece of rubbish to begin with, before going into a better than expected piece. It has harmonica in the background as well. This does sound like it is all over the place though, and lacks a proper feeling and musical accomplishment about it. It may be a better song from this album, but it is worth avoiding anyway. In any case, you’ll be wanting to end hearing this record soon enough. Naff. The weird outro is bizarre here.
Living In Fame begins with a good drumroll, before launching into a heavily delayed Reggae piece that is good, but could have been refined a bit further. Still, it is okay but comes across as merely another track on a very sub par album here. Which is the sad thing about this album, the loose format here means that the material here is less consistent than what one would be hoping for. In any case, this could have been bettered. It drags on towards the end. The outro is really pathetic.
Next is Silicone On Sapphire begins with some electronically treated drum beats and some science fiction keyboard sounds, before going into a really weird song. This is an instrumental sonic jam that, once again, is not needed here. Nothing worth hearing here, if you can skip it, please do. You’re not missing much, and if you would rather bang your head against a brick wall, do so. Another useless bit of music by The Clash on this album. Forgettable.
Following is Version Pardner which begins with an awful sonic sound about it, sounding like wannabe Reggae. The whole thing sounds horrible and out-of-tune even, which is a terrible thing for this sort of music, and album. Is it worth your time? Absolutely not, if it sounds horribly out of tune, you should avoid it. Hard to believe that this is The Clash’s music, they had much better moments than here. The sounds and sound effects are poorly done here. The bassline however does sound pretty good. This keeps this piece going. Towards the end are some random noises, which sound pretty out of place. This song is also very long, at well over five minutes. Ordinary.
Career Opportunities is absolutely awful, having kids singing the classic song by The Clash. Seriously, you just read that correctly. This is not worth hearing whatsoever. Once you have read this, you will likely wash your hands of thinking about the album, let alone The Clash. A horrible joke of a song cover, avoid totally.
Shepherds Delight fortunately is the last song here, and it is rubbish from the go. Some weird beats and sounds are here, but this is a stinker of an album, and this song is no different, either. An ordinary piece that is an instrumental to listen to, this is pretty naff. A rubbish end to a joke of an album, spend your time doing something other than listening to this album, you will thank yourself later for it.
This is a terrible album by The Clash that should be avoided at all costs. The music here is lazy, uninspired and awfully structured and sounding. The Clash’s best days were seemingly gone at this point, at least London Calling is a great album. Check that album out instead, this is a joke of a record.
If you liked the article and would like to support the author in his musical review quest, please donate to show your support. Thank you for your consideration. Chris Airey