“The Clash” remains a timeless, relevant record even after almost four decades – a feat that only a few music greats have been able to accomplish.
Almost seven months after their debut at a gig by the Sex Pistols in Sheffield, English punk rock band The Clash started recording their eponymous first album. The recording took place until February 27 at the CBS Studio 3 in London and at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield. The Clash was produced by Mickey Foote under the CBS (Columbia Records) label.
A couple of months later, on April 8, The Clash was released first in the United Kingdom. It was also released in the United States but not until two years later, on July 26, and an entire year after their second record Give ‘Em Enough Rope’s US release. Interestingly, The Clash was actually available in the US even before its official US release but only as an import; apparently, CBS in the US deemed the record “not radio friendly.”
The Clash has been regarded as the first major punk record to be released in the UK. It contained 14 tracks, most of which were written and composed by members Joe Strummer and Mick Jones. The US version was different from the UK in that tracks “Deny”, “Cheat”, “Protex Blue”, “48 Hours”, and the original version of “White Riot” were omitted and replaced with “Clash City Rockers”, “Complete Control” a re-recorded version of “White Riot”, “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais”, “I Fought the Law”, and “Jail Guitar Doors”. The rest of the tracks were “Janie Jones,” “Remote Control”, “I’m So Bored with the USA”, “Hate & War”, “What’s My Name?”, “London’s Burning”, “Career Opportunities”, a cover version of “Police & Thieves” by Junior Murvin, and “Garageland”.
The simple yet timeless album cover for The Clash is one of the most recognized, if not iconic, by music fans. The cover art was designed by Polish artist Roslaw Szaybo, who also did covers for Elton John, Janis Joplin, and Santana, to name a few. The photo of the band minus original drummer Terry Chimes, who by that time had already decided to leave the group, was shot by Kate Simon at a stairway near the band’s rehearsal studio in Camden Market, London. Meanwhile, the back cover was shot by Rocco Macauly during the 1976 riot at the Notting Hill Carnival.
The Clash was a critical success in the UK, peaking at # 12 in the UK Albums chart. Conversely, it only peaked at # 126 on the US Billboard 200 chart. Today, though, The Clash has long been regarded as one of the greatest releases in music history by various entities, most notably by NME magazine’s Greatest Albums of All Time (#13) in 1993 and Greatest Album of the ‘70s (#3), Spin magazine’s 50 Most Essential Punk Records (#3) in 2001, Q magazine’s 100 Greatest British Albums Ever (#48) in 2000 and 100 Best Punk Albums (5/5 stars) in 2002, and Rolling Stone magazine’s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (#77) in 2003.
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