Combat Rock

Combat Rock
Combat Rock
Studio album by The Clash
Released 14 May 1982
Recorded September 1981 at Ear Studios, London; November 1981 – January 1982 at Electric Lady Studios, New York City; April 1982 at Wessex Studios, London
Genre Punk rock, dance punk, new wave
Length 46:21
Label CBS, Epic
Producer The Clash
The Clash chronology
Combat Rock
Cut the Crap
Singles from Combat Rock
  1. "Know Your Rights"
    Released: 23 April 1982
  2. "Should I Stay or Should I Go"
    Released: 10 June 1982
  3. "Rock the Casbah"
    Released: 11 June 1982
  4. "Straight to Hell"
    Released: 17 September 1982

Combat Rock is the fifth studio album by the English punk rock band The Clash. It was released on 14 May 1982 through Epic Records. It was the last album to feature original member Mick Jones, who was fired from the band, and drummer Topper Headon, who was kicked out for his heroin addiction.[1][2]

Although the album includes different styles of music, it is considerably less experimental than their previous album Sandinista!. In the United Kingdom the album charted at #2, spending 23 weeks in the UK charts. The album reached #7 in the United States, spending 61 weeks on the chart. The album has been certified 2x platinum.


Recording and production

Combat Rock was originally planned as a double album with the working title Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg, but the idea was scrapped after internal wrangling within the group. Mick Jones had mixed the first version, but the other members were dissatisfied and mixing/producing duties were handed to Glyn Johns, at which point the album became a single LP. The original mixes were later bootlegged.


Pennie Smith shot the cover photo for Combat Rock on a deserted railway line outside Bangkok while the band was on their "Far East" tour in 1982.

Following along the same note as Sandinista!, Combat Rock's catalogue number 'FMLN2' is the abbreviation for the El Salvador political party 'Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional' or FMLN.


In January 2000 the album, along with the rest of The Clash's catalogue, was remastered and re-released.

According to author Marcus Gray, the song "Red Angel Dragnet" was inspired by the January 1982 shooting death of Frank Melvin, a New York member of the Guardian Angels.[3][4] The song contains extensive quotes from the 1976 movie Taxi Driver's main character Travis Bickle, delivered by Kosmo Vinyl. Bickle sports a mohawk in the later part of the film and that hairstyle was adopted by Joe Strummer during the album promotion.

The song, "Ghetto Defendant", features beat poet Allen Ginsberg, who performed the song on stage with the band during the New York shows on their tour in support of the album. At the end of the song he can be heard reciting the Heart Sutra, a popular Buddhist mantra. Original U.S. pressings of the album had the full length track "Inoculated City" lasting 2:43. This version contained an unauthorized audio sample from a U.S. television commercial for a toilet bowl cleaner called "2000 Flushes". After the maker of the product complained of copyright infringement the audio sample was removed reducing the track length to 2:11. Approximately 100,000 copies of the first version were pressed with custom designed record labels. The majority of copies sold had the edited track and were re-issued on the standard dark blue Epic Records label. The full length "Inoculated City" also appeared on the B-side of the US "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" single. Early US CD copies of the album had the edited track. When the album was released as a remastered CD in 2000 the full length track was restored, though no mention of this was included on the CD packaging.[citation needed]

Reception and influence

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[5]
Blender 4/5 stars[6] 3/5 stars[7]
Robert Christgau (B+)[8]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[9]

The album received positive reviews from critics, and reached the number two on the UK Albums Chart, the number seven on the Billboard Pop albums, and the top ten on many charts in other countries.[10][11][12][13] The United States Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified Combat Rock as a Gold album on November 1982, Platinum in January 1983, and Multi-Platinum in June 1995.[14]

In 1999, Q magazine rated Combat Rock three stars out of five, and described the album as "...their biggest seller, but the beginning of the end."[15] In 2000, Alternative Press rated the album three stars out of five, and wrote that "The penultimate Clash album...employing lessons learned in the previous three years....their most commercially rewarded release....containing [their] most poignant song 'Straight To Hell'."[16] The College Music Journal ranked Combat Rock at number five on its 2004 list of the Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1982.[17]

Combat Rock was apparently one of the all-time favorite albums of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.

Track listing

All songs written and composed by The Clash except where noted. All songs copyright (The Clash) Nineden Ltd.. 

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Know Your Rights" (Strummer/Jones) Joe Strummer 3:39
2. "Car Jamming"   Joe Strummer 3:58
3. "Should I Stay or Should I Go"   Mick Jones 3:06
4. "Rock the Casbah"   Joe Strummer 3:44
5. "Red Angel Dragnet"   Paul Simonon/Kosmo Vinyl 3:48
6. "Straight to Hell"   Joe Strummer 5:30
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Overpowered by Funk"   Joe Strummer/Futura 2000 4:55
2. "Atom Tan"   Mick Jones/Joe Strummer 2:32
3. "Sean Flynn"   Joe Strummer 4:30
4. "Ghetto Defendant"   Joe Strummer/Allen Ginsberg 4:45
5. "Inoculated City" (some copies of the album have an edited version lasting 2:11) Mick Jones/Joe Strummer 2:43
6. "Death is a Star"   Joe Strummer 3:08

Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg track list

  1. "The Beautiful People Are Ugly Too" – 3:45
  2. "Kill Time" – 4:58
  3. "Should I Stay or Should I Go" – 3:05
  4. "Rock the Casbah" – 3:47
  5. "Know Your Rights" (extended version) – 5:04
  6. "Red Angel Dragnet" – 6:12
  7. "Ghetto Defendant" – 6:17
  8. "Sean Flynn" – 7:30
  9. "Car Jamming" – 3:53
  10. "Inoculated City" – 4:32
  11. "Death Is a Star" – 2:39
  12. "Walk Evil Talk" (instrumental) – 7:37
  13. "Atom Tan" – 2:45
  14. "Overpowered by Funk" (demo) – 1:59
  15. "Inoculated City" (unedited version) – 2:30
  16. "First Night Back in London" – 2:56
  17. "Cool Confusion" – 3:10
  18. "Straight to Hell" (extended version) – 6:56


Additional musicians



Year Chart Position
1982 Norwegian Albums Chart.[12] 7
1982 Swedish Albums Chart[13] 9
1982 UK Albums Chart[10] 2
1983 Billboard Pop albums[11] 7


Certifier Date Certification Sales
RIAA (U.S.)[14] 8 November 1982 Gold 500,000
RIAA (U.S.)[14] 10 January 1983 Platinum 1,000,000
RIAA (U.S.)[14] 6 June 1995 2x Platinum 2,000,000


  • Gray, Marcus (2005) [1995]. The Clash: Return of the Last Gang in Town (5th revised ed.). London: Helter Skelter. ISBN 1905139101. OCLC 60668626. 


  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 71:00–75:00. ISBN 0738900826. OCLC 49798077. 
  2. ^ Cromelin, Richard (31 January 1988). "Strummer on Man, God, Law and the Clash". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  3. ^ Gray (2005) p. 380
  4. ^ Monday, Jan. 18, 1982 (1982-01-18). "Time Magazine article 18 January 1982 ''Guardian Angels' Growing Pains''".,9171,949448,00.html. Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  5. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Combat Rock The Clash". Allmusic. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  6. ^ Wolk, Douglas. "Combat Rock". Reviews. Blender. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  7. ^ "The Clash - Combat Rock". Reviews. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert. "The Clash". Consumer Guide. Robert Christgau. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  9. ^ Fricke, David (25 January 2000). "Combat Rock by The Clash". Music Reviews. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "UK Chart Archive". Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  11. ^ a b "The Clash > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  12. ^ a b "Discography The Clash". Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  13. ^ a b "Discography The Clash". Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  14. ^ a b c d "Gold and Platinum: Searchable Database". RIAA. Retrieved 2008-10-26. 
  15. ^ "100 Greatest British Albums". Q magazine: 152–153. December 1999. 
  16. ^ "10 Essential '80s Albums". Alternative Press: 112. August 2001. 
  17. ^ "Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1982". College Music Journal: 10. 5 January 2004. 

Further reading

  • Gilbert, Pat (2005) [2004]. Passion Is a Fashion: The Real Story of The Clash (4th ed.). London: Aurum Press. ISBN 1845131134. OCLC 61177239. 
  • 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. 

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