The Clash showed considerable musical range for a group labeled as a "Punk band." Like many great bands they could go from deathly serious to fun and goofy without much effort.
The Clash began with guitarist Mick Jones and bassist Paul Simonon in the last days of a band with a truly great name - London S.S. They decided, after going nowhere, it was time to pull the plug and start over. Well, along comes the older Joe Strummer on guitar. There were numerous personnel changes but these three served as the band's core.
The importance of The Clash can not be overstated. They were the lightning rod for the Punk movement preaching revolutionary politics. While they often appeared to be chasing the Sex Pistols, by the end of the game, they were far more successful, artistically. Their shows were ferocious. See the cover photo on the "London Calling" CD. The Clash also incorporated several musical styles including Reggae and R&B.
Like many Punk bands, The Clash ran afoul of the law with members being arrested but nothing too serious. More important, The Clash insisted their records be sold for less than the regular LP price; and that included the triple record "Sandanista!" Their record label, Columbia, wasn't very supportive. They nailed the band's royalties and tour support for the lost revenues. It hardly seemed fair. How many revolutions have turned a profit? The end came shortly after Jones got booted. Following that unfortunate occurrence, The Clash only managed one insignificant album before parting ways. Jones later founded Big Audio Dynamite.
Strummer passed away due to heart failure in '02 just a few months after his fiftieth birthday.
A long time bootlegger favorite, The Clash's '82 show at New York's Shea Stadium, finally got its official release in '08. Opening for The Who, The Clash set was in support of their "Combat Rock" album.
1977 The Clash
1978 Give 'Em Enough Rope
1979 London Calling
1982 Combat Rock
1985 Cut The Crap
With the possible exception of "Sandanista" that stretched The Clash too thin (it's a three record set) everything this band produced with guitarist Mick Jones is worth owning. It's exciting, challenging and extraordinarily creative Punk Rock. Their best came out in the late '70s with "The Clash" and "London Calling." The latter has the snarling title track.
The U.S was a little slow to catch on. The hard-edged "Give 'Em Enough Rope" marks their U.S. debut but it wasn't until four years later they had their commercial breakthrough with "Combat Rock" ("Should I Stay Or Should I Go?" and "Rock The Casbah" - with a satirical video).
In the late '80s and '90s, the compilations hit the market with "The Story Of The Clash, Volume One." It's essential. "Super Black Market Clash," "The Clash On Broadway" and the EP "Return To Brixton" (a lovely part of London) are highly recommended. The Clash remains the most important Punk group.