So here it is. The new series for Sundays in 2016. Well, for the next 19 weeks anyway.
Inspired by last year’s purchase of The Clash Singles Box for a bit of a bargain price.
OK, its all CDs rather than vinyl but I’m consoled by the fact that the 19 discs in the box are packaged in sleeves that are reproductions of the original singles with the CDs themselves cleverly designed to look like vinyl records, complete with grooves and a label in the centre of each disc.
Disc 1 is White Riot.
Famously written in the aftermath of disturbances at the Notting Hill Carnival in August 1976, it couldn’t be any further removed from being about a call for some sort of race war, which incredibly was what some media commentators claimed was its subject matter when it was released. It is of course, a demand/plea/call-to-arms aimed at disaffected white youth in the UK, of which there was an ever-increasing number, to take note of the fact that the black community wasn’t afraid to take direct action to get their viewpoint across.
As a debut it was incendiary, raw and quite unlike anything most of us had heard before. I’ll admit, I wasn’t yet 14 years of age and so it kind of passed me by at the time as indeed did all the initial punk songs. But when I eventually did catch on to The Clash around 15 months later, it was great to go back and discover the early material.
The single version differs from the US album version in that it opens with a police siren instead of Mick Jones counting the band in:-
mp3 : The Clash – White Riot
The b-side was an otherwise unreleased song which became a bit of a manifesto for the punk era:-
mp3 : The Clash – 1977
One of the things I’m going to do with this series is also feature the short essay that accompanies each single within the boxset.
WHITE RIOT : Released March 18 1977 : Highest UK Chart Position 38
All the Clash singles came down to White Riot. It was the first single, it wasn’t on the album, it’s got 1977 on the b-side and I’ll always remember the day I bought it – which was the day out it came out.
It was March ’77 and you could really see that the party was already over and we were rushing headlong towards the summer of hate. White Riot and 1977 really gave off that feeling of paranoia and The Clash were doing their up-against-the-wall stance in their stencilled suits and the whole thing was really fresh.
It was all about staying out in sexually deviant or heavy duty black night clubs, you know – 48 thrills, speed and massive creativity. It had a great picture sleeve and was saying ‘White riot, I wanna riot, white riot, riot of my own’
It was also a piss-take of how pathetic white people are ar standing up for their rights and having fun, whereas black people know how to do both. Both The Clash and The Pistols were masters of being completely decadent and they made decadent fun.
The essential theme behind punk wasn’t hate; it was complete contempt for the idea of the right to work or the need tp do anything. It wasn’t ignorance, it was simply ‘Fuck it. I don’t care. I just wanna have fun.’ And White Riot says it all.
Shane McGowan, The Pogues