Read somewhere that it´s former Clash bassist Paul Simonon´s birthday today (many happy returns...), which made me think of the bass-heavy reggae tunes The Clash were so fond of playing amidst all the punk mayhem. The Clash were one of the first bands to incorporate the rebel music outta Jamaica in their sound, and I always loved them for it. Somehow their white man´s takes on reggae always seemed genuine. The real deal, no cheap rip-off. Their main influence was probably legendary dreadlocked dj Don Letts, who played a mix of punk and reggae at early punk gigs in London. Out of necessity really, as there weren´t that many punk records out at the time.
Here are some great live tracks from The Clash in reggae mode. The Guns of Brixton, the Willie Williams cover Armagideon Time and Bank Robber were all recorded at the Jamaica World Music Festival on 27 November ´82. Must have been a blast for Strummer, Jones and Simonon, playing their punky reggae to a Kingston crowd.
The Junior Murvin-penned Police And Thieves was recorded in Leicester on 2 July ´77. Strummer´s intro: "Now you can rest your sweaty armpits and move your knees... your knees!" An amazing version, with passionate vocals and lots of improvised lyrics. "I ain´t Diana Ross," Strummer proclaims all echoey near the end.
And last but not least, there´s White Man In Hammersmith Palais (probably my fave ever Clash song), stemming from a show at The Palladium, New York City on 21 September ´79. "White youth, black youth, better find another solution... why not phone up Robin Hood, and ask him for some wealth distribution..."
The Clash - The Guns Of Brixton (live ´82) MP3The Clash - Armagideon Time (live ´82) MP3
The Clash - Bank Robber (live) MP3
The Clash - Police And Thieves (live ´77) MP3
The Clash - White Man In Hammersmith Palais (live ´79) MP3