aka The Vinyl Villain incorporating Sexy Loser

#015– The Clash – ‚(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’ (CBS Records ’78)


Hello friends,

I trust not all have you have carefully read the ‘rules & regulations’ I had set up for myself for this series – I announced them in the first part of it. There were many, but today just one of them is important: “only one single per band”! Why do I mention this? Well, you might – or might not – know that The Clash have always been my favorite band – and by quite some distance even. So, if I hadn’t set this rule up, you could well find yourself having to listen to Clash singles for the next 12 weeks in a row (so, yes, George, I know you will indeed be pleased by this rule!) …

Also, I am a firm believer in this record being the best record in the history of the whole world ever. At least I am today, this could be surpassed tomorrow, of course, but this is rather unlikely.

Now, what does it make so special to me? Funnily enough, I have never been a great fan of reggae, in fact I disliked it intensely when I was younger … I just wouldn’t listen to it, probably because in my young narrow mind it was not ‘punk’ enough. I remember Peel occasionally ridiculing me because of my attitude, and – in hindsight – rightly so, of course. Although, it must be said, even to this day I never managed to share his passion for all this raga-stuff, Admiral Tibet etc. … I just don’t get it, sorry, John!

But I digress. The reggae elements in ‘White Man’ are – undeniably – one beneficial factor: as well musically as regarding their importance for punk music. Blending punk with other genres was unheard of back then by and large, and consequently this tune defined new borders for quite many bands to come.

The lyrics are another factor. I mean, when I was 26, like Strummer was back in 1978, I had only one thing in common with him (apart from not so nice teeth): I had also attended some gigs which disappointed me enormously. But this is where the similarities between us end because I certainly was not able to write a tune like this at this age (nor at any other age, mind you!) just because a gig I saw didn’t meet with my approval.

And this is just the beginning of it all, the way the song builds from his personal disappointment into perhaps the (band’s) most poignant statement about British society ever is just unbelievable … I mean, try to indict power-pop, shoddy reggae, and neo-Nazism in one four-minute span for yourself … and let me know when you’re ready!

‘White Man’ is a song I never get tired of. I trust this applies to a lot of you as well … therefore, it would be neat to hear your opinions, of course!



mp3:  The Clash – (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais



PS: the original single was issued simultaneously in four colour variations: white, yellow, blue and pink. I own them all, but I have them framed on my wall: which either shows you how much I love this record or either what a nerdy fuckwit I am … you decide. So the file today derives from the pink version out of the 19 Singles-Boxset …

JC adds……

I’m with Dirk on this one.   It was #2 in the 45 45s @ 45 series back in 2008, kept off the top spot by Temptation (and no, not the version by Heaven 17)


  1. Greatest track by the greatest band? (the only one that matters – however ironicly. that may have been meant).
    No arguments from me.
    As you say, the combination of tune and lyrics is astonishing. And is the dismissive snort after “They’ve got Burton Suits” one of the greatest moments ever?

  2. “you could well find yourself having to listen to Clash singles for the next 12 weeks in a row ”
    Well, it could have been worse. Maybe.

  3. Great post about a brilliant tune. For me, it is always in a battle with ‘Complete Control’ for the best Clash song – sometimes it wins. And can I be a pedant about the colours of the sleeves – mine is green…

  4. Yep. No arguments. My next favourite Clash single is probably Bankrobber, which is even more reggae.

  5. Yes I think my sleeve is green too… And may I just add, as with most Clash singles, The Prisoner is a shoo-in for the ‘Greatest B-sides’ series.

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