Disc 15 is This Is Radio Clash.

By late 1981, The Clash were not getting much positive press in the UK.  This was in part down to the continued backlash against what many critics and journalists considered to be a folly (or even worse a vanity project) of the triple-album but also because the band were no longer as accessible as they had been just five years previous when the debut album and singles had been unleashed.

Word came through that the band were reverting to old practices and releasing a one-off 45 that hadn’t been on any previous albums nor would it feature on any future recordings.  Word then came through that the title of the new 45 was to be This Is Radio Clash, and before anyone had heard a single second of music, it had been dismissed by a number of writers on the title alone on the basis that they’d had enough of the Joe’s sloganeering.

As such, the new single was on a hiding to nothing.  The reviews were mixed to say the least, and there was a further backlash when it was revealed that the 7″ single was the same tune with slightly altered lyrics and the 12″ only had remixes.  As someone wrote at the time, it was as if the band had used up all their creative talent in making Sandanista! and now had the equivalent of writer’s block.

All of which is very unfair on the single.  Yes, it was another surprise in terms of its sound being akin to a dance number that was more funk than punk, but it was far from awful.  Indeed, it is easy to look back now and see that they were laying down a marker for what was to be their next album – the one that really would propel them to fame and fortune in the USA which had been such a goal in recent times.  As one of those new wavers who liked his disco music, I was at the time and have continued ever since to be a fan of this single and can look back with pride that I helped it reach the giddy heights of #47!! Although I have to admit that the 12″ mixes are a bit on the dull side.

mp3 : The Clash – This Is Radio Clash
mp3 : The Clash – Radio Clash
mp3 : The Clash – Outside Broadcast
mp3 : The Clash – Radio 5

Worth noting that at the time of its release, there were only Radios 1,2,3 and 4 broadcasting nationally on the BBC in the UK. Radio 5, which became the news and sports channel, was launched in 1990.

THIS IS RADIO CLASH  : Released 20 November 1981 : #47 in the UK singles chart

The thing with ‘Radio Clash’ is it’s got that great ‘dan-daan-daan-dandaaaah’ introduction, almost as if saying ‘Here comes the villain’, the the riff comes in.  It’s pretty much like listening to the future if you consider what they were doing with sampling and remixing but without all the modern technology.

I wasn’t around for punk but you didn’t have to be to realise it was way ahead of its time. Also, it’ still got the attitude in there, even now, many years on. Joe’s lyrics hit home.  If you compare it to ‘White Riot’, they are so far apart stylistically, and that to me is what makes The Clash great. The mixing of styles, the lack of fear of experimentation, the way they’d get on and make records they wanted to, regardless of what anyone thought.  Not being afraid to try musically different styles has influenced Hard Fi,

I’m from a satellite town where the cultural arena was pretty sparse so The Clash were one of the ways to actually find out about stuff, whether it was dub, ska or Jack Kerouac.  They talked about what was going on in the world, we took that from them, they dealt with global issues but we’ve kept it to a local level. My older brother, Steve, got me into them.  Then I read Nirvana talking about them in interviews, and then Mick produced my first band.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago when he joined us on stage at Brixton Academy and it sums up how so much has changed in the last few years.  You couldn’t ask for any more. When I hear their songs it makes my heart beat faster, and I just want to pick up my guitar and get on stage.

Richard Archer, Hard Fi

(I’m thinking today’s author won’t be too well-known outside of the UK – here’s wiki )

3 thoughts on “THE CLASH ON SUNDAYS (15)

  1. Wot, no love for ‘Radio Clash’? Best I jump in and offer my thumbs up then. I don’t know Hard Fi, but that’s a good little essay too.

  2. Echorich’s account of his and his friends’ two-week party at the Clash’s Bonds shows in May 1981 — where this song became the soundtrack of the summer — kind of said it all.

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