The Clash (album)

The Clash (album)
The Clash
Studio album by The Clash
Released 8 April 1977
Recorded 10 February 1977–27 February 1977 National Film and Television School, Beaconsfield; CBS Studios, London
Genre Punk rock
Length 35:18
Label CBS
Producer Mickey Foote
The Clash chronology
The Clash
Give 'Em Enough Rope
Singles from The Clash
  1. "White Riot"
    Released: 18 March 1977
  2. "Remote Control"
    Released: 13 May 1977

The Clash is the self-titled debut studio album by the English punk rock band The Clash. It was originally released only in the United Kingdom on 8 April 1977 through CBS Records. The album was re-released in the United States in 1979, dropping four tracks and adding five other tracks. Both versions of the album are still in print.[1]


Recording and production

Released in the United Kingdom through CBS Records in 1977, engineered by CBS staff engineer Simon Humphrey and produced by Clash live soundman Mickey Foote, at the (since demolished) CBS Whitfield Street Studio No. 3.[2] The Clash was unusually musically varied for a punk band, with reggae and early rock and roll influences plainly evident.

Most of the album was conceived on the 18th floor of a council high rise on London's Harrow Road, in a flat that was rented by Jones' grandmother, who frequently went to see their live concerts.[3] The album was recorded over three weekend sessions at CBS Studio 3 in February 1977. By the third of these sessions the album was recorded and mixed to completion, with the tapes being delivered to CBS at the start of March. It cost just £4000 to produce.


The subject of the opening track, "Janie Jones", was a famous madam in London during the 1970s. "Remote Control" was written by Mick Jones after the Anarchy Tour and contains pointed observations about the civic hall bureaucrats who had cancelled concerts, the police, big business and especially record companies. CBS decided to release the song as a single without consulting the band. "I'm So Bored with the USA", developed from a Mick Jones song, entitled "I'm So Bored with You",[4] condemns the Americanization of the UK.[5] "White Riot" was the The Clash's debut single. The song is short and intense, punk style of two chords played very fast. Lyrically, the song is about class economics and race.[6]

"Career Opportunities", the opening track of the second side of the album, attacks the political and economic situation in England at the time, citing the lack of jobs available, and the dreariness and lack of appeal of those that were available. "Protex Blue", sung by Mick Jones, is about a 1970s brand of condom. The song ends with the shouted phrase "Johnny Johnny!", "johnny" being a British slang term for a condom. The version of "White Riot" featured on here was not recorded for the album. Instead, they used the original demo version, recorded at Beaconsfield Studios before the band signed to CBS.

"Police & Thieves" was added to the album when the group realized that the track listing was too short. Another cover the band played at these sessions was Bob Marley's "Dancing Shoes". "Garageland" was written in response to Charles Shaar Murray's damning review of The Clash's early appearance at the Sex Pistols Screen on the Green concert - "The Clash are the kind of garage band who should be returned to the garage immediately, preferably with the engine running".[7][8][9] It was the final track recorded for the album.


The album's front cover photo, shot by Kate Simon, was taken in the alleyway directly opposite the front door of the band's 'Rehearsal Rehearsals' building in Camden Market. Drummer Terry Chimes, though a full member of The Clash at the time, did not appear in the picture as he had already decided to leave the group. Another picture from the same Kate Simon photoshoot appears on the UK Special Edition DVD of Rude Boy, released in 2003. The picture of the charging police officers on the rear, shot by Rocco Macauly, was taken during the 1976 riot at the Notting Hill Carnival—the inspiration for the track "White Riot".


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[10]
Blender 5/5 stars[citation needed]
Robert Christgau (A)[11]
Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[12]

The album received positive reviews from critics and peaked at number 12 in the UK charts.[13] In December 1979, critic Robert Christgau named it his favorite album of the 1970s.[14]

In February 1993, the New Musical Express magazine ranked the album number 13 in its list of the Greatest Albums of All Time.[15] NME also ranked The Clash number 3 in its list of the Greatest Albums of the '70s, and wrote in the review that "the speed-freaked brain of punk set to the tinniest, most frantic guitars ever trapped on vinyl. Lives were changed beyond recognition by it".

In December 1999, Q magazine rated the album 5 stars out of 5, and wrote that The Clash "would never sound so punk as they did on 1977's self-titled debut....Lyrically still howled with anger".[16] The same magazine placed The Clash at number forty-eight in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever in 2000,[17] and included The Clash in its "100 Best Punk Albums", giving it 5 stars out of 5, in May 2002.[18]

In 2000, Alternative Press rated the album 5 out of 5. Alternative press review saw The Clash as an eternal punk album, a blueprint for the pantomime of "punkier" rock acts, and that for all of its forced politics and angst, The Clash continues to sound crucial.[19]

In May 2001, Spin magazine ranked the album number 3 in its list of the 50 Most Essential Punk Records, and wrote "Punk as alienated rage, as anticorporate blather, as joyous racial confusion, as evangelic outreach and white knuckles and haywire impulses".[20]

In 2003, the (US version) was ranked number 77 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time about which was said "youthful ambition bursts through the Clash's debut, a machine-gun blast of songs about unemployment, race, and the Clash themselves."[21][22]

In March 2003, Mojo magazine ranked The Clash number 2 in its Top 50 Punk Albums, writing that the album was "the ultimate punk protest album. Searingly evocative of dreary late '70s Britain, but still timelessly inspiring".[23]

Noted Jamaican producer Lee Perry heard the album while in London in 1977, and played it to Bob Marley[citation needed], who in turn mentioned The Clash on his own track "Punky Reggae Party".

Track listing

All songs written and composed by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, except where noted. 

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Janie Jones"   Strummer 2:08
2. "Remote Control"   Jones, Strummer 3:03
3. "I'm So Bored with the USA"   Strummer 2:24
4. "White Riot"   Strummer 1:56
5. "Hate & War"   Jones, Strummer 2:06
6. "What's My Name" (written by Jones, Keith Levene, Strummer) Strummer 1:40
7. "Deny"   Strummer 3:06
8. "London's Burning"   Strummer 2:12
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Career Opportunities"   Strummer 1:52
2. "Cheat"   Strummer 2:06
3. "Protex Blue"   Jones 1:43
4. "Police & Thieves" (written by Junior Murvin, Lee Perry) Strummer 6:03
5. "48 Hours"   Strummer 1:34
6. "Garageland"   Strummer 3:12


1979 US version

The Clash (US version)
Studio album by The Clash
Released 26 July 1979 (1979-07-26)
Recorded 1976–1979
Genre Punk rock
Length 43:20
Label Epic
Producer Mickey Foote, Lee Perry, The Clash, Bill Price
The Clash US chronology
Give 'Em Enough Rope
The Clash
London Calling
Singles from The Clash
  1. "Complete Control"
    Released: 23 September 1977
  2. "Clash City Rockers"
    Released: 17 February 1978
  3. "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais"
    Released: 17 June 1978
  4. "I Fought the Law"
    Released: 26 July 1979

In the United States, The Clash's debut studio album was released one year after Give Em Enough Rope, so it was their second release in the US. CBS in America had decided that the album was 'not radio friendly', so it was initially only available in the States during 1977–1978 as an import, and as such became the biggest selling import of the year, shifting over 100,000 copies.[24]

In July 1979, Epic released a modified version of the album for the United States market. This version replaced four songs from the original version with five non-album singles and b-sides, some of which were recorded and released after The Clash's second studio album, Give 'Em Enough Rope (1978). It also used the re-recorded single version of "White Riot", rather than the original take featured on the UK version.

Omitted from the US version were the following tracks:

  • "Deny"
  • "Cheat"
  • "Protex Blue"
  • "48 Hours"
  • "White Riot" (original version)

Added were the following tracks:

  • "Clash City Rockers" - Initially released as a single (A-side) in the UK in February 1978
  • "Complete Control" - Initially released as a single (A-side) in the UK in September 1977
  • "White Riot" (re-recorded version) - Initially released as a single (A-side) in the UK in March 1977
  • "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais" - Initially released as a single (A-side) in the UK in June 1978
  • "I Fought the Law" - Initially released as a track on the Clash EP The Cost of Living in the UK in May 1979
  • "Jail Guitar Doors" - Initially released as the B-side to "Clash City Rockers" in the UK in February 1978

Initial copies of the US version also came with a bonus 7-inch single which featured "Groovy Times" and "Gates of the West".[25] The liner notes incorrectly credit new drummer Nicky Headon for "White Riot".

It was another moderately successful album for The Clash in the United States, even though the sales were likely diluted by the longstanding popularity of the UK version on the import market. The Clash peaked at number 126 on the Billboard charts[26], setting the stage for the commercial breakthrough of London Calling later that year. Since the Clash's first UK album had already been released in Canada by CBS Records, when CBS Canada released the US version, they changed the cover art so as to not confuse the record buying public. The CBS Canada version of the LP has a dark blue border instead of green. Initial copies also contained the bonus "Groovy Times" 45". Some original pressings of the US version featured "What's My Name?" as track 4 and "Complete Control" as track 11. Though the back of these original pressings list the two songs as they are featured on recent versions of the album.

Track listing (1979)

All songs written and composed by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, except where noted. 

Side one (1979)
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Clash City Rockers"   Strummer 3:55
2. "I'm So Bored with the USA"   Strummer 2:24
3. "Remote Control"   Jones, Strummer 3:00
4. "Complete Control"   Strummer, Jones 3:14
5. "White Riot"   Strummer 2:01
6. "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais"   Strummer 3:58
7. "London's Burning"   Strummer 2:10
8. "I Fought the Law" (written by Sonny Curtis) Strummer 2:41
Side two (1979)
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Janie Jones"   Strummer 2:01
2. "Career Opportunities"   Strummer 1:52
3. "What's My Name?" (written by Jones, Keith Levene, Strummer) Strummer 1:40
4. "Hate & War"   Jones, Strummer 2:05
5. "Police & Thieves" (written by Junior Murvin, Lee Perry) Strummer 6:01
6. "Jail Guitar Doors"   Jones 3:05
7. "Garageland"   Strummer 3:12

Personnel (1979)

Chart positions

Year Chart Position
1977 Swedish Albums Chart[27] 42
1977 UK Albums Chart[13] 12
1979 Billboard Pop albums[26] 126


  • Gilbert, Pat (2005) [2004]. Passion Is a Fashion: The Real Story of The Clash (4th ed.). London: Aurum Press. ISBN 1845131134. OCLC 61177239. 
  • Gray, Marcus (2005) [1995]. The Clash: Return of the Last Gang in Town (5th revised ed.). London: Helter Skelter. ISBN 1905139101. OCLC 60668626. 
  • Green, Johnny; Garry Barker (2003) [1997]. A Riot of Our Own: Night and Day with The Clash (3rd ed.). London: Orion. ISBN 0752858432. OCLC 52990890. 
  • Gruen, Bob; Chris Salewicz (2004) [2001]. The Clash (3rd ed.). London: Omnibus. ISBN 1903399343. OCLC 69241279. 
  • Needs, Kris (2005-01-25). Joe Strummer and the Legend of the Clash. London: Plexus. ISBN 085965348X. OCLC 53155325. 
  • Topping, Keith (2004) [2003]. The Complete Clash (2nd ed.). Richmond: Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 1903111706. OCLC 63129186. 


  1. ^ Letts Don; Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon, Terry Chimes, Rick Elgood, The Clash (2001). The Clash: Westway to the World (Documentary). New York, NY: Sony Music Entertainment; Dorismo; Uptown Films. Event occurs at 25:00–25:35; 25:45–27:40; 34:00–36:00; 44:40–45:00. ISBN 0738900826. OCLC 49798077. 
  2. ^ The Clash. Mojo, Mojo Classic issue. p. 33.
  3. ^ "The Uncut Crap - Over 56 Things You Never Knew About The Clash". NME (London: IPC Magazines) 3. 16 March 1991. ISSN 0028-6362. OCLC 4213418. 
  4. ^ Caws, Matthew (12 1995). "Mick Jones". Guitar World (New York: Harris Publications) 12. ISSN 1045-6295. OCLC 7982091. 
  5. ^ MTV Rockumentary. Interviewer: Unknown; Presenter: Kurt Loder. MTV, London, England. Transcript.
  6. ^ Letts (2001). The Clash: Westway to the World. Event occurs at 25:45–27:40.
  7. ^ Murray, Charles Shaar (2003-04-05). "Joe is dead, but the Clash are immortal". Retrieved 2010-05-07. "I described them as the kind of garage band who should be speedily returned to their garage, preferably with the engine running" 
  8. ^ Letts (2001). The Clash: Westway to the World. Event occurs at 25:00–25:35.
  9. ^ Needs, Kris (11 2004). "HOW I MET THE CLASH". Retrieved 2007-11-21. 
  10. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. The Clash (album) at Allmusic. Retrieved 18 August 2004.
  11. ^ Christgau, Robert. "The Clash > Consumer Guide Reviews". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 10 August 2007. 
  12. ^ Brackett, Nathan with Hoard, Christian, eds (2004). "The Clash". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. London: Fireside. pp. 167-168. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved 24 September 2011.  Portions posted at "The Clash > Album Guide". Retrieved 27 February 2011. 
  13. ^ a b "UK Chart Archive". Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert (December 17, 1979). "Decade Personal Best: '70s". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2008-nicole Jpo. 
  15. ^ NME (2 February 1993), p. 29
  16. ^ Q (December 1999), pp. 152-153.
  17. ^ Q (June 2000), p. 70.
  18. ^ Q (May 2002). SE, p. 135.
  19. ^ Alternative Press (March 2000), pp. 74-75.
  20. ^ Spin (May 2001), p. 108.
  21. ^ Rolling Stone (937): p. 114. December 11, 2003. 
  22. ^ Levy, Joe; Steven Van Zandt (2006) [2005]. "77 | The Clash - The Clash". Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (3rd ed.). London: Turnaround. ISBN 1932958614. OCLC 70672814. Retrieved 2 December 2007. 
  23. ^ Mojo (March 2003), p. 76.
  24. ^ Letts (2001). The Clash: Westway to the World. Event occurs at 34:00–36:00.
  25. ^ Letts (2001). The Clash: Westway to the World. Event occurs at 44:40–45:00.
  26. ^ a b The Clash > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums at Allmusic. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  27. ^ "Discography The Clash". Retrieved 26 October 2008.

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