Monday, July 06, 2009

Classic Album - The Clash-Combat Rock

Sure,'s got some of the more popular radio tunes like "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" and "Rock The Casbah" but Combat Rock is home to arguably the best B-side of the early 80's.
I might just be biased because this was the first vinyl I ever purchased (purchased being the operative word here as I'm excluding records I got for free).
I bought it in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco about 6 years ago while on a trip with my mother. We were wandering up and down Haight, ducking into record stores, cafes and antique shops when I came upon a box of records being sold for 5 bucks. I picked up Combat Rock and have listened to it nearly every morning since then.
It's the last album The Clash made with the original lineup and some critics pen it as "the beginning of the end" - fair enough. But...oh my god...SIDE TWO!

Side two has one of my favourite jams of all time - "Overpowered by Funk." It's got a freestyle outro by a New York City graffiti artist by the name of Futura 2000 (on right) and the second this song kicks in it's nearly impossible to ignore its beat. It's on the more "experimental" side of the Clash's catalog, straying slightly away from their punk roots, but is nonetheless worthwhile and memorable.

Another notable track on Combat Rock's side two is "Ghetto Defendant" which features Allen Ginsberg alongside Joe Strummer. Ginsberg reads a beautiful poem in flawless rhythm and, backed by a more free-flowing and relaxed beat, this song is a perfect interlude.

Last but not can't talk about Combat Rock without mentioning "Sean Flynn" - the story of an American actor and photojournalist who disappeared in Cambodia in 1970. Flynn and Dana Stone were on assignment with Time Magazine in Cambodia when they were captured by Vietnamese communist guerillas at a roadblock and were never heard from again. Their remains have never been found and Flynn's mother had him declared legally dead in 1984.
The song, which is three minutes longer on the Rat Patrol mix, has a distinct "jungle" vibe to it and echo-pedally vocals by Strummer.

Side one isn't too shabby either, really. It ends with "Straight to Hell" which is a quintessential Clash track brought back into the mainstream recently thanks (or no thanks...) to MIA.

All in all, Combat Rock is historical in the span of the Clash's career and is sometimes overshadowed by it's "less punk" vibe throughout. Whatever that means.

1 comment:

Devin said...

"Overpowered by Funk" was embarrassingly hilarious. I mean, I still enjoy it, but for much different reasons...