When an artist releases an insanely good debut album, it’s hard not to compare them to The Clash, no matter what genre their music falls under. The Clash’s 1977 self-titled debut burst on to the early punk scene and captured the hearts of a generation. The Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, which was released the same year, is often viewed as the genesis of punk rock, but The Clash is arguably a more personal, nuanced record which speaks to the youth experience of the time.
Most impressively, the album begins with one of The Clash’s greatest songs, ‘Janie Jones’, a cutting act of rebellion against the monotony of everyday life and a look at the irresistible attraction of the “rock ‘n’ roll world”. It’s a high-energy crash course in punk rock. ‘White Riot’, ‘I’m So Bored With the U.S.A’ and ‘Career Opportunities’ are highlights of The Clash’s discography which also make an appearance on the punk band’s debut record. Few other artists have managed to have such an immense cultural impact so early in their career.
But it’s not all pure punk rock ‘n’ roll. On The Clash, we’re also introduced to some of the more experimental and musically open-minded sounds that go onto influence their later albums. Their cover of the reggae track ‘Police & Thieves’ and ‘Remote Control’ have a more laid back sound in which they play around with the usual features of punk and push the boundaries of what the genre means. It’s the beginnings of an experimental attitude which eventually resulted in the creation of classics like ‘Rock the Casbah’ and ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’.
It’s no mystery that they were such enchanting icons of the 70s punk generation; the sheer emotion present in Joe Strummer and Mick Jones’ voice in songs like ‘Hate & War’ or ‘Garageland’ represents everything that the genre is all about; an outlet to rebel against the worst parts of modern society and to create a community of people who want to change the world.
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