So why is The Clash’s Combat Rock on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?
My two earliest memories of The Clash are tied directly to Combat Rock, which makes sense from the standpoint that the early ‘80s were the first time in my young life when I was able to make much sense of anything, musical or otherwise.
I’ll start with the funnier bit.
I would watch any TV show or movie that I could get my eyes in front of back then, and of course it was an era when the selection of pop culture was much more limited than it is these days. And back then, certain movies would be in rotation on cable television and would seemingly be on “all the time.”
There was this one comedy where one of the characters was a teenage girl. To her parents, she was the Good Girl, and this included dressing “normally,” and having a bedroom appointed with girly things that a “normal” conforming teen girl of the ‘80s middle class would have.
But then when the parents took off, everything got flipped. Literally. She mussed up her hair style, out came the “punk outfit” (plus punk makeup) and there was a lightning quick changeover of her bedroom as well. And the key to this was flipping a hanged print on the wall around from whatever picture of flowers or whatever was on one side to a picture featuring a band called The Clash on the other.
Around the same era, I started seeing the music video for “Rock the Casbah.” It’s pretty interesting, looking back, that my introduction to The Clash was not linear and therefore didn’t start with the likes of “I’m So Bored With the U.S.A.” or even “London’s Calling.” Instead, “Rock the Casbah” is not “straight punk rock” at all, but more like this wild hybrid of punk with new wave and dance music and pop sensibilities.
Side note here that I learned from the All Music entry for Combat Rock that the key to the album’s tighter arrangements and more accessible sound versus the much more expansive and experimental Sandinista! (#731 of best 1,000 albums ever) was bringing Glyn Johns to produce*.
* This is the very same Glyn Johns that we meet and get to spend quite a lot of time with during the extraordinary Beatles documentary, Get Back, that I got into recently in the entry for George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” (#396 of best 1,000 albums ever).
“Rock the Casbah” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go” are the best known songs on Combat Rock, and two of The Clash’s most iconic. The latter is a much more straight ahead punk rocker, and has a classic and clean hook that is catchy in the best kind of way.
Another side note here that “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and The Clash were introduced to a new generation by way of the song’s centrality to the plot of the first season of Stranger Things, which was a huge phenomenon when it premiered on Netflix back in the summer of 2016.
There are many other treasures besides on Combat Rock. I’ve become quite enamored of the strange and groovy “Red Angel Dragnet” over the years, and can only imagine what this song and the rest of the album were about before Glyn Johns got his hands on it. I’d also wager that Tim Armstrong and Rancid played this one on repeat (along with much else of The Clash’s catalog, of course) during their formative years.
Songs like “Car Jamming” are a throwback to the band’s early sound, and the addition to the mix is really pleasing here.
And “Overpowered by Funk” is one of the more effective fusions of punk and funk that you’ll ever hear.
Some stats & info about The Clash – Combat Rock
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, Punk Rock, British Bands, Dance Music, New Wave
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 3.5 out of 5 stars
- When was Combat Rock released? 1982
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #395 out of 1,000
A lyrical snippet from The Clash’s Combat Rock that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe
Rock the Casbah.
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.