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Punk / New Wave - Released September 6, 2013 | CBS Records

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
Give 'Em Enough Rope, for all of its many attributes, was essentially a holding pattern for the Clash, but the double-album London Calling is a remarkable leap forward, incorporating the punk aesthetic into rock & roll mythology and roots music. Before, the Clash had experimented with reggae, but that was no preparation for the dizzying array of styles on London Calling. There's punk and reggae, but there's also rockabilly, ska, New Orleans R&B, pop, lounge jazz, and hard rock; and while the record isn't tied together by a specific theme, its eclecticism and anthemic punk function as a rallying call. While many of the songs -- particularly "London Calling," "Spanish Bombs," and "The Guns of Brixton" -- are explicitly political, by acknowledging no boundaries the music itself is political and revolutionary. But it is also invigorating, rocking harder and with more purpose than most albums, let alone double albums. Over the course of the record, Joe Strummer and Mick Jones (and Paul Simonon, who wrote "The Guns of Brixton") explore their familiar themes of working-class rebellion and antiestablishment rants, but they also tie them in to old rock & roll traditions and myths, whether it's rockabilly greasers or "Stagger Lee," as well as mavericks like doomed actor Montgomery Clift. The result is a stunning statement of purpose and one of the greatest rock & roll albums ever recorded. [In 2000 Columbia/Legacy reissued and remastered London Calling.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Punk / New Wave - Released September 6, 2013 | Sony Music UK

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The Clash sounded like they could do anything on London Calling. For its triple-album follow-up, Sandinista!, they tried to do everything, adding dub, rap, gospel, and even children's choruses to the punk, reggae, R&B, and roots rock they already were playing. Instead of presenting a band with a far-reaching vision, like London Calling did, Sandinista! plays as a messy, confused jumble, which means that its numerous virtues are easy to ignore. Amid all the dub experiments, backward tracks, unfinished songs, and instrumentals, there are a number of classic Clash songs that rank among the band's best, including "Police on My Back," "The Call Up," "Somebody Got Murdered," "Charlie Don't Surf," "Hitsville U.K.," and "Lightning Strikes (Not Once but Twice)," yet it's difficult for anyone but the most dedicated listeners to find them. A few of the failed ideas were worth exploring, but even more -- like the children's choir version of "Career Opportunities" or the Tymon Dogg song "Lose This Skin" -- weren't even worth pursuing. As the cliché says, there's a great single album within these three records, and those songs make Sandinista! worthwhile. Nevertheless, its sloppy attack is disheartening after the tour de force of London Calling and the focused aggression of The Clash. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Punk / New Wave - Released September 6, 2013 | Sony Music UK

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
Never Mind the Bollocks may have appeared revolutionary, but the Clash's eponymous debut album was pure, unadulterated rage and fury, fueled by passion for both rock & roll and revolution. Though the cliché about punk rock was that the bands couldn't play, the key to the Clash is that although they gave that illusion, they really could play -- hard. The charging, relentless rhythms, primitive three-chord rockers, and the poor sound quality give the album a nervy, vital energy. Joe Strummer's slurred wails perfectly compliment the edgy rock, while Mick Jones' clearer singing and charged guitar breaks make his numbers righteously anthemic. Even at this early stage, the Clash were experimenting with reggae, most notably on the Junior Murvin cover "Police & Thieves" and the extraordinary "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais," which was one of five tracks added to the American edition of The Clash. "Deny," "Protex Blue," "Cheat," and "48 Hours" were removed from the British edition and replaced for the U.S. release with the British-only singles "Complete Control," "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais," "Clash City Rockers," "I Fought the Law," and "Jail Guitar Doors," all of which were stronger than the items they replaced. Though the sequencing and selection were slightly different, the core of the album remained the same, and each song retained its power individually. Few punk songs expressed anger quite as bracingly as "White Riot," "I'm So Bored with the U.S.A.," "Career Opportunities," and "London's Burning," and their power is all the more incredible today. Rock & roll is rarely as edgy, invigorating, and sonically revolutionary as The Clash. [In 2000, Columbia/Legacy reissued and remastered the album to include the U.K. songs.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Punk / New Wave - Released September 6, 2013 | Sony Music UK

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On the surface of things, Combat Rock appears to be a retreat from the sprawling stylistic explorations of London Calling and Sandinista! The pounding arena rock of "Should I Stay or Should I Go" makes the Clash sound like an arena rock band, and much of the album boasts a muscular, heavy sound courtesy of producer Glyn Johns. But things aren't quite that simple. Combat Rock contains heavy flirtations with rap, funk, and reggae, and it even has a cameo by poet Allen Ginsberg -- if this album is, as it has often been claimed, the Clash's sellout effort, it's a very strange way to sell out. Even with the infectious, dance-inflected new wave pop of "Rock the Casbah" leading the way, there aren't many overt attempts at crossover success, mainly because the group is tearing in two separate directions. Mick Jones wants the Clash to inherit the Who's righteous arena rock stance, and Joe Strummer wants to forge ahead into black music. The result is an album that is nearly as inconsistent as Sandinista!, even though its finest moments -- "Should I Stay or Should I Go," "Rock the Casbah," "Straight to Hell" -- illustrate why the Clash were able to reach a larger audience than ever before with the record. [In 2000 Columbia/Legacy reissued and remastered Combat Rock.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Punk / New Wave - Released September 6, 2013 | Sony Music UK

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For their second album, the Clash worked with the American hard rock producer Sandy Pearlman, best-known for his work with Blue Öyster Cult and the Dictators. The teaming was quite controversial within the punk community, and the sound of Give 'Em Enough Rope is considerably cleaner, yet the more direct sound hardly tamed the Clash. While the record doesn't burn with the same intense, amateurish energy of The Clash, it does have a big, forceful sound that is nearly as powerful. What keeps Give 'Em Enough Rope from being a classic is its slightly inconsistent material. Many of the songs are outright classics, particularly the first half of the record ("Safe European Home," "English Civil War," "Tommy Gun," "Julie's Been Working for the Drug Squad") and "Stay Free," but the group loses some momentum toward the end of the record. Even with such flaws, Give 'Em Enough Rope ranks as one of the strongest albums of the punk era. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Punk / New Wave - Released September 6, 2013 | Sony Music UK

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Years after the Clash disintegrated, their live performances remained legendary, partially because most things concerning the band entered rock legend. Bootlegs offered proof of those great performances, but only hardcore collectors would seek those out, which is why From Here to Eternity: Live, the Clash's first official live album, is a welcome addition to their catalog -- it confirms that the legend is deserved. Sequenced as "the ultimate live concert," as so many compiled live albums are, this is one time the trick actually works. All the performances were recorded between 1978 and 1982, but they're sequenced according to the date of the song, not the date of the performance. Consequently, the album divides roughly in half, as the first nine songs are devoted to The Clash and Give 'Em Enough Rope, with the rest of the record comprised of songs from London Calling and its successors. That doesn't necessarily mean that the performance is taken from the same era as the song, however. The amazing thing is that the performances all sound like they're taken from the same show. From Here to Eternity has genuine momentum, rushing through its 17 songs at a furious pace -- things don't slow down until "Armagideon Time," the 11th song in. Only after the album is finished does it sink in that it is indeed sequenced chronologically, since it has the feel of a set list. More importantly, it's impossible to tell when each song was recorded. "Career Opportunities" sounds as if it were recorded at a packed, sweaty London club, but it was taken from tapes of the band's opening set for the Who at Shea Stadium in the fall of 1982. That's not the only incident of such historical sleight of hand, either. Throughout the first portion of the album, early and latter-day performances blend seamlessly, creating the illusion that everything on the record was from one dynamic, relentlessly exciting show. By doing so, From Here to Eternity: Live offers undeniable proof of the Clash's greatness -- this was a band that sounded every bit as good in its final days as it did in its first. (This, of course, is discounting the post-Mick Jones Clash.) But the best thing about the album is that it never sounds like a historical project or an archival release, because it is such a captivating listen. From the opening chords of "Complete Control" to the closing notes of "Straight to Hell," From Here to Eternity is an invigorating record, teeming with life and energy. It's a live album worthy of a band as legendary as the Clash. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Punk / New Wave - Released September 6, 2013 | Sony Music UK

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In Clash lore, the band's stint as the opening act for the Who's farewell tour in 1982 is where the band had stardom in its hand and dropped it on the floor. That's how Joe Strummer phrased it in retrospect, but in 1982 the pairing was seen as a rock cultural clash, with the Who's audience bristling at the punks, and the punks not quite being comfortable operating on a larger scale -- a suspicion somewhat proven by the band's implosion within months of the Shea Stadium gig. Given all the stories about how poorly received this tour with the Who was -- that the Clash were routinely greeted by boos as they hopped from stadium to stadium across the U.S. -- it comes as a mild surprise that this unearthed recording of the band's opening set at Shea Stadium isn't bad at all. There were some signs prior to this 2008 archival release that this particular gig was pretty good -- some of the cuts surfaced on the posthumous live 1999 comp From Here to Eternity and the video to "Should I Stay or Should I Go" came from this gig -- but all the decades of disastrous myths help turn Live at Shea Stadium into a pleasant surprise. That doesn't mean that this is a definitive portrait of the Clash live, or even that it captures the band at their best, but it's fascinating to hear how they pitched their set to the Who's audience, only slowing down for the reggae of "Armagideon Time" and "The Guns of Brixton," but otherwise sticking with high-octane, breathlessly paced rock & roll -- the kind of set designed to placate a stadium full of classic rock fans, or at least keep them buying beer instead of throwing it. As a historical document, it's a worthy one. It not only illustrates that the Clash did turn in some strong performances on this often disaster-plagued tour, but it gives us the first officially released Clash concert instead of the re-creation of From Here to Eternity. And if it's not all terrific -- strangely, the Combat Rock songs can sometimes sound stiff, particularly "Rock the Casbah" -- when the group clicks, as they do on a closing stretch that includes "Career Opportunities," "Clampdown," "Should I Stay or Should I Go," and a furious "I Fought the Law," they sound like the greatest band on earth and a sure bet to have blown the Who off the stage. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Punk / New Wave - Released September 6, 2013 | Sony Music UK

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Punk / New Wave - Released September 6, 2013 | Sony Music UK

A tie-in to the exhaustive 2013 box set Sound System, the 2013 compilation The Clash Hits Back is a novel approach to a career retrospective: it mirrors the 24-song set list for the band's July 19, 1982 concert at Brixton Fairdeal, then adds eight bonus hits at the end. The Clash Hits Back slightly tweaks the running order of the original set -- "Bankrobber" arrived five songs into the concert but appears eighth here -- but that doesn't matter much, as this swap doesn't alter the impact of the original set. The Clash were plugging Combat Rock so songs from that LP -- the singles "Rock the Casbah," "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" and "Straight to Hell," plus "Ghetto Defendant" and "Know Your Rights," adding up to just under half the album -- sit alongside a heavy chunk of London Calling and early hits, plus a few stabs at Sandinista!. What's added at the end is a mix of their high-octane early material ("White Riot," "Complete Control," "Clash City Rockers," Tommy Gun," "English Civil War") and their more adventurous studio recordings ("The Call Up," "Hitsville UK," "This Is Radio Clash"), adding up to a strong overview of all the band could do. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Punk / New Wave - Released September 6, 2013 | Sony Music UK

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Punk / New Wave - Released January 28, 2010 | Sonic Book