133. straight to hell

Combat Rock is far from the Clash’s best album. Yet Straight To Hell may well be their best single song, working an oddly open groove to make room for a gush of Joe Strummer passion and consciousness that manages to cover all manner of unstable ground from British Colonialism to American interventionism to junkiedom to everything else. ‘Could be anywhere – any frontier – any hemisphere’ being a key line, speaking to the universality the (r)evolution that the Clash were always propounding, though not always so eloquently as here. Want to get to the heart of 99-percent of what’s wrong with the planet? Start with everybody who’s been just shoved aside by history and its dubious intentions. We need to be needed. All of us. Every frontier. Every hemisphere. Else it’s straight to hell. All of us. The only band that mattered maybe the last time they mattered.” (Philip Random)

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597. Sean Flynn

“Speaking of reggae, I’d be lying if I said the Clash weren’t one of my key entry points, still to this day maybe the only white reggae band that ever truly mattered. Because somehow or other, they got well past the easy, stoned sunshine grooves, found the depth of it. Like Sean Flynn (concerning Errol Flynn’s son, a photojournalist who was killed on the job in the Cambodian spillover of the Vietnam war) a song which maybe isn’t reggae at all, but it’s definitely dub, high and somewhat ethereal, like you’re floating above all the horror below, finding just enough altitude to see some beauty without denying any of the tragedy.” (Philip Random)

1040. ghetto defendant

In which Allen Ginsberg drops in on the Clash during the Combat Rock sessions, the mike gets opened and he slam dances Metropolis, enlightens the populous. And so on, off into a mid-tempo ramble on the hungry darkness of living. Whatever evils were going down in 1981 – nobody in this crowd was looking the other way.

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