Monday, May 11, 2009

The Clash - "Bankrobber" (forgotten song)

What's the greatest Clash song you've never heard? Probably "Bankrobber", a 1980 single that was recorded during the sessions for "Sandinista!" but was not released on that LP. It has made it on to a few compilation LPs, including 1980's 10" EP "Black Market Clash", where it was combined with "Robber Dub" (a dub version of "Bankrobber") as a single song. Unfortunately, when "Black Market Clash" was reissued as "Super Black Market Clash", only "Robber Dub" was kept and "Bankrobber" was deleted (perhaps the only flaw in an otherwise good B-side collection). You can find the single version of "Bankrobber" on many, many compilation LPs that have since been released, but I'm not aware of an LP in print that offers the 6:16 version of "Bankrobber/Robber Dub".

Interestingly enough, the B-side of the "Bankrobber" single did not feature "Robber Dub" (though it was originally intended that way) but instead features "Rockers Galore... UK Tour", which is essentially an instrumental version of "Bankrobber" with Mikey Dread toasting over the track. Dread is the producer of the single and is featured in the video ("Dread at the controls").

"Bankrobber" is probably the highlight of punk/reggae hybrid. The Clash's covers of reggae songs are excellent (e.g., "Pressure Drop", "Police on My Back", "Police and Thieves"), but they're covers. Here we find the band comfortably writing original music at the nexus of the two genres. Considering all the puzzling songs that appear on "Sandinista!", I sure wish they had found room for "Bankrobber" and friends.

Bankrobber: YouTube (official video), Dailymotion, YouTube.

Robber Dub: YouTube.

Bankrobber/Robber Dub: YouTube.

Rockers Galore... UK Tour: YouTube, Grooveshark.

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