Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Clash - "This is Radio Clash" (forgotten song)

Lodged somewhere between the critically acclaimed "London Calling" and the commerically accessible "Combat Rock" LPs, the only band that matters released a lot of experimental and genre-defying material, including the 3LP "Sandinista!" and the 1981 single "This is Radio Clash" that does not appear on any studio LPs (though it appears on several compilations -- which would be one of the few reasons a true fan would ever buy a compilation).

Sure, this song received some radio airplay and even a bit of MTV coverage. You might even remember it. But The Clash canon has been sadly reduced to "Train In Vain", "Rock the Casbah" and "Should I Stay or Should I Go" (and "I Fought the Law" if they're really digging). Those are all fine songs, to be sure, but "This is Radio Clash" deserves to be heard. It visually and lyrically presages the U2 Zoo TV concept by, oh, 12 years. It arguably shares a common thread with Cyberpunk novels such as Bruce Sterling's Islands in the Net. This is one of their most successful punk/dub/rap mashups. Again, not to besmirch "Combat Rock", but you cannot listen to this and wistfully wonder what would have been if Mick Jones and Joe Strummer had patched their differences and given us a few more LPs in this vein (or at least "Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg").

YouTube links: official video and on the Tom Snyder Show.

Grooveshark links: This is Radio Clash and Radio Clash. On the original single, I believe these two songs were run together as a single 8 minute song. The above YouTube links, as well as most other versions you hear, are actually "This is Radio Clash" and not "Radio Clash". The music is the same but the lyrics are different. I've yet to find a copy of the 8 minute original.

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