O. & something pointless

Combat Rock, for the upteenth time.

A late-night rant concerning the greatest album of all time, The Clash’s Combat Rock.

Much more so than London Calling, or even Sandinista!, Combat Rock truly emerges into its influences, be it endless fascination, fear, loathing or admiration. It has the spirit of Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. It has the beauty of modern literature and poetry by the likes of Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. It lives and breaths like an exotic metropolis, be it New York, Peking, Mexico City or just some distant, foreign place radiating with both the possibilities and cul-de-sacs of human existence. It understands both the beauty and the ugliness of modern live —it has seen the heart of darkness, though still knowing it may be necessary if satisfaction and peace of mind are desired to be found. It may be a depressed album made in desperation, but it never abandons the hope for greater beauty of life. It marvels at the world. Its sounds have been gathered from experiences around the globe, some beautiful, some terrifying. Underneath all the albums dark themes lies a desire for something better than this —something the Clash always strifed for, even during their most hopeless moments of despair.

EDIT: Oh, I should probably point out that my least favourite track on the album is Should I Stay Or Should I Go. Really, there is so much more to this album than a hastily scraped together Rolling Stones guitar manifesto. Straight To Hell, Sean Flynn, Ghetto Defendant, Inoculated City etc. on the other hand are some of the most inspired, beautiful and interesting pieces of music ever done against the backdrop of punk rock.

Everyday I check the Clash tag and every time at least four people praise London Calling, which is understandable, it is a fantastic album. London Calling hasn’t got a single bad song on it (even though Lover’s Rock is quite mediocre and not just by the Clash’s standards) and it has the optimistic power of rock n’ roll that can move mountains. It is an anthem. But what about Combat Rock?

In my humble opinion, Combat Rock is the truly superior Clash album. For a long time I preferred London Calling over everything else, but during last august while listening to Combat Rock, something changed. It almost felt like something snapped in my head or whatever, but after Death is a Star I just knew, that there is this certain feeling on Combat Rock that London Calling nor any other Clash album has. I still can’t point out what the feeling exactly is, but I think it has a lot to do with the “deep and somewhat cynical maturity” of this album.

While London Calling could be seen as a starting grid with it’s optimistic way to look at the future, Combat Rock is the finishing line. The band has been running towards the better future for three years, constant touring and working, but while doing so, they burn out. They’re sick and tired of each other, but before the final breakdown they manage to create their last masterpiece. An album, which couldn’t really be any further from punk rock, but which is at the same time politically the most challenging and outrageous album the band had created. The album is very cynical and depressing, but yet at the same time it laughs at subjects like war, drug abuse and exploitation of human rights. Oh yes. Even with the few comical relieves here and there, like Overpowered by Funk and Rock the Casbah, the album’s overtone is quite complex (think of Sean Flynn and you’ll know what I mean).

Tracks like Car Jamming, Know Your Rights and Atom Tan are just pure gold and Straight to Hell is probably the greatest anti-war anthem ever. (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais v. 2.0, it’s universal and timeless. And yet people tend to remember this album as the “Should I Stay or Should I Go” album, which is very sad. Should I Stay is merely a mediocre AOR song with a silly sing along chorus and that’s about it, one of the Clash’s worst songs in my opinion. Listen to Up In Heaven (Not Only Here) from Sandinista instead, or Train In Vain. But then again, who cares about what I think.

I could go on for about forever, there’s no end to my hype so I’ll just end this here. I had to get this out of my system for the hell of it. Damn, do I love this album.