Anarchy Around The World: Punk Goes Global


“Forty years after it officially crash-landed in our midst, it’s easy to believe punk ‘sold out’ its lofty original ideals, not least because its leading acts all eventually signed to major labels and played ball with The Man. Yet regardless of its shortcomings, punk still had a seismic global impact during the mid-to-late 70s and its legacy can still be felt in everything from its inherent DIY ethos to its (broadly) anti-sexist stance. However, while countless revisions of this flawed – yet exhilarating – period have since been published, they nearly always fix punk as a purely transatlantic phenomenon. … This is entirely understandable, as both nations have reason to claim punk as their own. In North America, the 70s had barely dawned before New York was spawning remarkable proto-punk acts such as Suicide and New York Dolls, while across 1974-76, trailblazing US refuseniks such as Pere Ubu, Patti Smith, Ramones and Blondie were already hurling out remarkable, oeuvre-defining discs. …”
uDiscover (Audio)

Clash City Rockers/Jail Guitar Doors – The Clash (1978)


“‘Clash City Rockers’ is a song and single by The Clash. First released in February 1978 with the b-side ‘Jail Guitar Doors,’ a re-worked version of a song from Joe Strummer‘s pub rock days. It was later included as the opening track of the belated US version of the band’s eponymous debut album.The song was first played live at Mont De Marsan (Landes – France), in August 1977 and recorded the same year in the band’s October and November sessions at CBS Studios. Following an argument at the end of the band’s Get Out of Control Tour, Paul Simonon and Mick Jones were not on speaking terms, leaving Joe Strummer as a middle-man, relaying instructions and insults from one to the other. In December, producer Mickey Foote (Joe Strummer’s old sound-man from the 101’ers and producer of The Clash and ‘White Riot’) increased the speed of the tape for the finished master of the song after manager Bernie Rhodes decided the song sounded ‘a bit flat.’ This technique, known as ‘varispeeding,’ rendered the song one semitone higher in pitch. Strummer and Jones were in Jamaica at the time. When they heard the finished result, Foote was sacked. With the exception of the 2000 re-issue of the US version of The Clash, the original version of the song (at the proper speed) has been used on every re-release since. …”
Wikipedia
Genius – Clash City Rockers (Audio), Genius – Jail Guitar Doors (Audio)
YouTube: Clash City Rockers, Jail Guitar Doors (Video)

Syd Shelton discusses his exhibition of antiracist protest photographs in London


Bagga, 1979
“… I became involved with Rock Against Racism after the Battle of Lewisham in southeast London in 1977. This was when a racist march by about one hundred National Front supporters was met with five thousand antiracist activists who had traveled down from all over the country. The Metropolitan Police were determined that the National Front be able to march, so they deployed a quarter of their force, suited with riot gear. This was the first time the police in Britain were militarized, and the officers’ use of riot shields really shifted the goalposts for activists—we were up against something different now. At the same time, Eric Clapton had just delivered a horribly racist tirade onstage, in support of Conservative politician Enoch Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech. We realized we needed to grab the headlines to counter the right-wing media’s high profile, and our first major event was a carnival in April 1978—a huge concert in the Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets. We didn’t want it to just be a free rock concert, though; we wanted it to be a demonstration. …”
ARTFORUM
Guardian – Rock Against Racism: the Syd Shelton images that define an era
Interview – Syd Shelton
Rock Against Racism: Syd Shelton’s photographs of a movement in 1970s Britain
W – Rock Against Racism
vimeo: Archive in Focus: Syd Shelton, Rock against Racism 7:19

Darcus Howe (with loudhailer) addresses a crowd from on top of a toilet block, 1977.

Why the Clash Matter


“‘The only band that matters.’ There is charismatic hubris in this phrase, a declaration of radical faith. Fuck the past, the future is here and everything in music will be ruthlessly revamped in its wake. And when the description was applied to the Clash, it was easy to believe. Today, though, it’s easy to scoff at. Since the death of front-man Joe Strummer in 2002, the Clash have ascended into rock-and-roll mythos. No fewer than thirty books have been released on the band or on Strummer. Some of them are wonderful. Others are shallow and sloppy hagiographies. Their music has been used to hawk everything from boots to smartphones. Centrists in progressive clothing like Beto O’Rourke receive high praise for quoting ‘The Clampdown’ to Ted Cruz. Separating what’s commodity and spectacle from the band’s actual contribution is getting harder. The latest in the growing list of biographical material is ‘Stay Free: The Story of the Clash.’ Produced by Spotify in collaboration with the BBC and narrated by Public Enemy’s Chuck D, it’s the first podcast dedicated to the band’s history. It is an excellent piece of work, both in terms of substance and style. Social and cultural context play a prominent role in telling the story of the band’s evolution. Strikes, riots, movements, political explosions and implosions clearly inform their philosophy and musical practices as global capitalism reconstitutes itself in the 1970s and 1980s. …”
Jacobin

The Clash – Give ‘Em Enough Rope (1978)


“Robert Christgau – Although in the end I find that Sandy Pearlman’s production does as much justice to the power of this band as the debut does to their rough intensity, I know why some are disappointed. The band’s recent strategy has been to cram their dense, hard sound so full of growls and licks and offhand remarks that it never stops exploding. Here that approach occasionally seems overworked, and so does the vision–this major (and privileged) pop group sounds as wearied by the failure of punk solidarity, the persistence of racial conflict, the facelessness of violence, and the ineluctability of capital as a bunch of tenured Marxists. But these familiar contradictions follow upon the invigorating gutter truths of the first album for a reason–they’re truths as well, truths that couldn’t be stated more forcefully with any other music. Great exception: ‘Stay Free,’ Mick Jones’s greeting to a mate fresh out of jail that translates the band’s new political wariness into personal warmth. A
Robert Christgau
Rolling Stone: Give ‘Em Enough Rope By Greil Marcus
W – Give ‘Em Enough Rope
YouTube: Give ‘Em Enough Rope (full album)

(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais / The Prisoner – The Clash (1978)


“‘(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’ is a song by the English punk rock band The Clash. It was originally released as a 7-inch single, with the b-side ‘The Prisoner’, on 16 June 1978 through CBS Records.  … The song showed considerable musical and lyrical maturity for the band at the time. Compared with their other early singles, it is stylistically more in line with their version of Junior Murvin‘s ‘Police and Thieves‘ as the powerful guitar intro of ‘(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’ descends into a slower ska rhythm, and was disorienting to a lot of the fans who had grown used to their earlier work. ‘We were a big fat riff group’, Joe Strummer noted in The Clash’s film Westway to the World. ‘We weren’t supposed to do something like that.’ ‘(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’ starts by recounting an all-night reggae ‘showcase’ night at the Hammersmith Palais in Shepherd’s Bush Road, London, that was attended by Joe Strummer, Don Letts and roadie Rodent, and was headlined by Dillinger, Leroy Smart and Delroy Wilson. … ‘(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’ helped The Clash assert themselves as a more versatile band musically and politically than many of their peers, and it broke the exciting but limiting punk mould that had been established by the Sex Pistols; from now on The Clash would be ‘the thinking man’s yobs’. …”
Wikipedia
Punknews
BBC: White man’s blues
YouTube: White Man – 3/8/1980 – Capitol Theatre, White Man in Hammersmith Palais with Lyrics, The Prisoner

Stiff Little Fingers – Alternative Ulster / 78 RPM (1978)


“It begins with a guitar riff that’s almost martial in its call. Then a howl of ‘Nothin’ for us in Belfast, The Pound so old it’s a pity, OK, there’s the Trident in Bangors’, before it speeds up to the chorus of ‘Get an Alternative Ulster, Ignore the bores and their laws’ that has helped make it one of the best known songs of defiance, boredom and youthful anger. Belfast’s Stiff Little Fingers released their second single ‘Alternative Ulster’ in 1978 at the height of the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’. Police brutality and sectarian terrorist violence was part of daily life and there were few places for a young band to play. Singer and guitarist Jake Burns, guitarist Henry Cluney, bassist Ali McMordie, and drummer Brian Faloon, started the band a year earlier from the development of a cover band Highway Star, named after the Deep Purple song. …”
Talking “Alternative Ulster” With Stiff Little Fingers’ Jake Burns (Video)
Alternative Ulster: how punk took on the Troubles (Video)
YouTube: Alternative Ulster (Rockpalast ’80), Alternative Ulster, 78 RPM