Reason #296: Combat Rock

combatThose who know me know that The Clash are one of my all-time favorite bands. You should also know that Sandinista! is my favorite Clash album. I’ve always thought of Combat Rock as the baby Sandinista!, in that it built upon the same eclectic musical ideas (some might say schizophrenic) of Sandinista! but edited down for popular consumption. Indeed it was the Clash’s most commercially successful album to date, due primarily to the singles Rock The Casbah (written by drummer Topper Headon!) and Should I Stay Or Should I Go. They even opened up for The Who, and were poised to take over the world and then…Strummer fired Jones, Headon left to pursue his heroin ‘hobby’, Strummer and Simonon (and a couple of young ‘punks’) released Cut The Crap–which it was–and that was that.

Combat Rock contains many of their best moments aside from those two hits. Straight To Hell is, to me, the best song they ever recorded, and Know Your Rights is the best flat out rock song since London Calling, even though I understand some don’t care for it too much. Car Jamming and Atom Tan are fine tracks, pure Clash, and even the atmospheric numbers like Red Angel Dragnet and Ghetto Defendant add to the overall appeal. I’ve never been super psyched about Overpowered By Funk, a number that just reinforces how unfunky the Clash could really be (although The Magnificent Seven from Sandinista! is terrifically funky!), and Death Is A Star is just filler.

While Combat Rock is their most commerically popular album I also think it their most under rated. It often gets slammed as the “sell-out” one, and I think that’s a little childish. It’s every bit as uncompromising as what came before, and is definitely weirder, too. But bad? The Clash, while Jones was in the group, never released a ‘bad’ album, or a sub-par one either. This is no exception.