Great Rock Albums of 1982: The Clash- Combat Rock
Before I launch into the most successful album from The Clash, I must also add my two penneth about AC/DC at the grammys last week. I have enjoyed reading some of the accounts of their performance on the show from some of my fellow bloggers and to all I say, “Well done!” However, I have also read Britain’s leading tabloid newspaper, The Sun’s account of the grammys. They mentioned Kanye West, Madonna and even Lady GaGa with lost of glossy pictures. I had a skim read through it and there was no mention of AC/DC’s performance nor were there any pictures. This adds further proof the my supposition that The Sun newspaper is anti heavy metal.
Now a quick recap on history of the time. By the early 1980s, punk had relocated from Britain to the west coast of the US. Many of the famous punk bands from the late 1970s had either disbanded or as in the case of The Jam, gone for a more mainstream sound. Read my visit of “The Gift” for further insight. Saying that, The Clash failed to pick up the memo on this because the 1982 album “Combat Rock” is not a total abandonment from the punk sound that made The Clash who they were. I’ll be the first to say that they probably weren’t as angry as they were when they put out “London Calling” there is a lot to say that they weren’t ready for the Top 40 either.
“Combat Rock” starts out as brash as any of The Clash’s earlier albums with a great opener, “Know Your Rights” and a great follow on with “Car Jamming.” Then there is my all time favourite Clash song, “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” which carries aggressive guitar chords that would impress most metalheads. Just thinking about it makes me want to seek out the nearest mosh pit. The next single “Rock the Casbah” comes next. What is great about this song is that while it still has that aggressive Clash style, the lyrics are politically satirical that some might not expect. Furthermore, a piano is added and that too doesn’t take away from the hard punk rock sound. After the next track, “Red Angel Dragnet,” “Combat Rock” seems to slide a bit with its hard rock aggression. What there is, however, is some more politics and satire, which makes me think that The Clash weren’t angry anymore, just a bit more skeptical and wanted to take the piss out of everything. “Inoculated City” goes back to the more angrier days but for me, “Combat Rock” lets itself down with an almost ballad like closer, “Death Is a Star.” Sure, that might work on a progressive rock album but to me it was rather unnecessary. Take that track away and you can see why this album was The Clash’s most successful album.
1. Know Your Rights
2. Car Jamming
3. Should I Stay or Should I Go
4. Rock The Casbah
5. Red Angel Dragnet
6. Straight to Hell
7. Overpowered by Funk
8. Atom Tan
9. Sean Flynn
10. Ghetto Defendant
11. Inoculated City
12. Death is a Star
Joe Strummer- lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
Mick Jones- guitar, vocals
Paul Simonon- bass, vocals
Topper Headon- drums, piano
What “Combat Rock” proved to me was that punk hadn’t completely left England in 1982. The Clash were able to put out a top album without totally forgetting where they came from.
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