Unauthorised item in the bagging area

Friday 10 January 2020

Slamdance Cosmopolis

A Clash song and cover for Friday, a song from the tail end of the group's lifespan, when the days of squats in Davis Road must have seemed an eternity and a world away. By 1982 The Clash were playing stadiums (supporting The Who) and releasing an album which was partly made for mass appeal with singles that would get them on the radio and also an album that was very internationalist in its subject matter, about the Far East and New York rather than the Westway. Much of Combat Rock has a melancholic, weighty feel. Ghetto Defendant has a downbeat reggae groove with a particularly good bassline from Simonon, many memorable lines from Strummer about heroin addiction and Allen Ginsberg as 'the voice of God'. Jean Arthur Rimbaud, The Paris Commune, Marseilles, Guatemala, the Hundred Years War, Afghanistan...

Mick initially saw Combat Rock as another long album, fifteen or sixteen songs with extended dance mixes and lengthy intros and outros. He lost that argument as the album was remixed by Glyn Johns, trimmed back to forty six minutes and had several songs shelved. The Sound System box set included this original, longer Mick Jones version of the song, everything stretched out a bit further, more reggae groove, more bass, more Strummer and more Ginsberg.

Ghetto Defendant (Extended Version)

In 2017 New York's Megative put out a cover of Ghetto Defendant, an even more downbeat version than the original, slow and heavy but with enough groove to get you shuffling, slightly. Megative have their own apocalyptic take on the punky reggae party and on the basis of this cover plenty to bring.

Ghetto Defendant 


The Swede said...

Fingers crossed for a 40th Anniversary 'Sandinista' set later this year and a proper 40th anniversary 'Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg' release in 2022.
I saw the band attempt Ghetto Defendant in 1982 and they just didn't nail it that night. It was only a couple of months after Topper had been sacked and the erratic pacing of the song seemed to get the better of them, in spite of their best efforts

Adam Turner said...

It's a funny song and I can imagine it tripping them up played live.

Brian said...

An interesting lesson in music history for me, Adam. I didn't know that's what Mick had on mind for Combat Rock, but it makes sense considering where he was about to go. I was 12 when Combat Rock came out. This was my moment to discover the Clash. Because of that fact, I'm guessing I see this as a much better album than some of our slightly older peers. I wish I could say I was in line at the shop in Dec. 1979/Jan. 1980 when London Calling came out. Of course, I wish I could say that about so many albums that came out around that time.

Swiss Adam said...

I'm definitely interested in a proper version of Rat Patrol. Not sure how much more Sandinista! can have added to it.