Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Clash - The Clash (1977)

2.5 ★/5.0 - 5.9

I know I may be shooting myself in the foot here and destroying any traces of credibility I've ever had, but seriously, what was so great about Punk Rock anyways? (Cue the entire punk community screaming in rage at my ignorance). I'm not saying there isn't anything credible about the genre. I've always respected the artists and viewed the movement as integral in terms of it's philosophies, influence and historical significance. Plus, considering the depraved state of Prog at the time, I should also be thankful that bands like The Sex Pistols and The Ramones stepped in to upset the imbalance of power. But do I ever actually enjoy listening to the stuff? Hardly. Mindlessly slamming a series of power chords into the ground and saying it has value just because it's "anti-establishment" has just never struck me as requiring much effort or talent. The best Punk albums are ones that suggest some sort of effort in the studio; an ear for dynamics, hooks, sound/texture, melodies, or anything else that at least hints at some sort of grasp on song-craft. And usually those albums aren't straightforward Punk at all, but could more accurately classified as Pop Punk, Post Punk or Dance Punk; all styles that are usually appreciated for what they share with genres other than Punk.

The Clash's raw, uninspiring debut, however, is uncondensed Punk in it's absolute, purest form and, predictably, embodies everything that there is to love and hate about the genre. Evidence to the former can only be found in short doses; the thrashing chords of "I'm So Bored With The USA", the catchy quick-witted perfection of tracks like "What's My Name" and "London's Burning", the Television-lite jam session on "Police & Thieves", the shaggy riffage on "Protex Blue" and the hungrily distorted guitar solos (almost all of them in every track). But for evidence on the latter, you could look at pretty much everything else, the biggest of which is probably the embarrassingly lazy structures of these songs. None of the progressions within a single song feel like they go with one another, yet all of them are completely and totally interchangeable, and for the life of me, I can't remember any. Before going on to integrate all of the much more interesting genres of the world and eventually becoming my personal favorite of Punk Rock's original "Big 3", The Clash began pretty much like every other Punk band of their ilk; Angry, obnoxious, simple and completely boring.

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