THE CLASH ON SUNDAYS (9)

The Clash - The Cost Of Living EP - Front

Disc 9 is The Cost Of Living EP.

I mentioned last week that when English Civil War had been released as the second 45 off Give ‘Em Enough Rope how Joe Strummer had promised that any fans who maybe felt a bit short-changed would have it made up to them with the next 45.

It was only a three-month wait till the next release and it came in the shape of an EP with four songs, one of which was the band’s first stab at putting out a cover as the lead track, another was the re-recording of an old favourite that was proving expensive to track down and own, while there were two brand new songs to enjoy that were only ever going to be available on the EP.  Oh and it came with a degree of fancy packaging, the concept of which lampooned a popular brand of soap powder in the UK.

The Cost Of Living EP was a stupendous release.  The cover version sounded as punky as anything they had recorded up to that point and didn’t feel like a song dating back to 1966.  The two new tracks were incredibly catchy and listenable and bordered on pop…..one of them even featured a harmonica solo ans acoustic guitar….and then there was the tongue-in cheek approach to the re-recording of Capital Radio with Joe’s mad ad-libs and then signing off with a crazy spoof sales jingle .

mp3 : The Clash – I Fought The Law
mp3 : The Clash – Groovy Times
mp3 : The Clash – Gates Of The West
mp3 : The Clash – Capital Radio Two

Turns out the box set falls down a bit at this juncture as the version of Capital Radio Two is the same as later made available on the import LP Black Market Clash. To get the full effect you need a vinyl copy of the EP from back in 79, so it’s just as well I have one in the collection:-

mp3 : The Clash – Capital Radio Two (with jingle)

There’s another excellent essay in the box set booklet from a musician who, as a kid, was mesmerised by The Clash.

COST OF LIVING EP : Released 11 May 1979 : #22

I was an eight-year-old punk when “The Cost Of Living” came out.  My dad was well into his music and for my birthday present he took me to see The Clash at the Apollo in Manchester. I can still remember seeing the sign outside as we arrived : “LIVE TONIGHT – THE CLASH”

Joe Strummer was totally wired, throwing his guitar around the stage. We were sitting in the balcony and by the end the whole place was going crazy. Seats were getting ripped out and flying everywhere. My old man was like, ‘we’d better get you out of here.’  The first line of “I Fought The Law” is the killer : ‘Breaking rocks in the hot sun’. Fucking brilliant.  After that you can do anything.

I found out recently that “I Fought The Law” was written by Sonny Curtis, the guitarist in The Crickets. It’s weird, it’s better than anything Buddy Holly ever did! And of course, Bobby Fuller was dead at 22, which only adds to the mystery.

It’s a great track, but then The Clash always did brilliant covers: “Police and Thieves”, “Brand New Cadillac”. I’ve still got my dad’s vinyl copies of the first album. I dug it out the other day. As a kid, I’d written all over it in crayon: ‘Jimi Goodwin – Punk Rock Lives’. The seeds of everything I’ve done since were sown there, I reckon!

Jimi Goodwin, The Doves

4 thoughts on “THE CLASH ON SUNDAYS (9)

  1. For me this is where The Clash get back on track. Tommy Gun, English Civil War, Clash City Rockers even, are a dip in quality- but this e.p. is the business. The 2 new B-sides showing their range and pointing the way to London Calling. IFTL is the band at their most exhilarating. Capital radio is a hoot. As a piece of vinyl this is as crucial as anything they did.

  2. There’s so much subtle social commentary here, but the beauty of The Clash at this time is that you could choose to put that all to one side and just really enjoy the music.
    The sound of Give Em Enough Rope may not have been the path which The Clash originally intended to follow, but they took a good deal of confidence from the experience. I also think that of the first 3 albums, it’s the one where they were able to focus a bit on their own experiences as they were growing and changing.
    SA is on point, though, when he says that you can see a clear direction coming from The Cost Of Living EP.

  3. “See-through shields are walled across the way that you came in”
    The man could really tell a story in a sentence.

  4. I Fought the Law was my first exposure to the Clash and i love it to this day. That the Clash were not only the best but the biggest band on the planet for a period is somewhat awe inspiring to ne. Cant recall a simikar mass outbreak of good taste before or since!

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