There aren’t a lot of bands that can claim to have had the same kind of influence as The Clash. For those who are unfamiliar, punk rock came into existence centered around a club called CBGB that could be found in the Lower Manhattan of the mid 1970s. However, it wasn’t too long before interest spread to the United Kingdom. The Sex Pistols had their first show in November of 1975. After which, the Clash and a number of other Sex Pistols-inspired bands sprung up, thus creating the nucleus of the punk rock movement in that country. The Clash was around for just a single decade’s time. After all, the band came into existence in 1976 before breaking up in 1986. Even so, it managed to release six studio albums, which were influential in both their times and beyond. As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Clash is often considered to be one of the greatest acts of all time.
6. Cut the Crap
Cut the Crap receives the number six position for the simple reason that there are a lot of people out there who don’t consider it to be a Clash studio album at all. For those who are unfamiliar, the classic lineup consisted of four individuals, who would be the lead vocalist Joe Strummer, the lead guitarist Mick Jones, the bassist Paul Simonon, and the drummer Topper Headon. In 1982, Headon was asked to leave because of his heroin addiction. Unfortunately, this didn’t resolve the band’s issues. Instead, Headon’s departure exposed tensions between the remaining band members, with the result that Jones left as well. Thanks to that, Cut the Crap was made by Strummer, Simonon, and three individuals who were relative unknowns at the time, which was a very different lineup to say the least. As for the release itself, well, suffice to say that the Clash wasn’t exactly in the best place when it made it, as shown by how it broke up mere weeks afterwards. In fact, Strummer outright disowned the studio album. A sentiment that is by no means uncommon.
5. Give ‘Em Enough Rope
Give ‘Em Enough Rope was the Clash’s second studio album, which happened to be the first one featuring Headon as well. Unsurprisingly, this means that it resembles its immediate predecessor in a lot of respects. Unfortunately, the combined effect is that Give ‘Em Enough Rope isn’t capable of matching up to its immediate predecessor, not least because of a number of bad moments that marred the whole. Still, it is still very interesting in its own right, particularly since it is very clear about the band’s politics. This can be seen in how a number of songs reference what were contemporary events, though their meaning can be lost on more modern listeners. To name an example, “Julie’s Been Working for the Drug Squad” refers to the drug bust of one of the biggest LSD production operations in the entire world, which is obscure trivia more than anything else nowadays.
Speaking of which, Sandinista! was pretty political as well. After all, the name itself refers to the Sandinistas, which is a socialist party that has been active in Nicaragua since the 1960s but can trace their roots even further back. In any case, the studio album was considered to be a very solid release, which is particularly impressive for a number of reasons. One, it followed the massive success of London Calling, which overshadowed it a bit but nowhere near what would have been the case if it had been a lesser release. Two, it was a triple studio album, meaning that it contained 36 songs rather than a more standard number of them. Three, Sandinista! was one of the Clash’s more experimental releases as well, as shown by its crossovers into folk, funk, jazz, reggae, and more besides.
3. Combat Rock
As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of people who don’t consider Cut the Crap to be a Clash studio album at all, meaning that Combat Rock would be the band’s last studio album for them instead. Fortunately, it was one of the band’s stronger releases, as shown by how it went double platinum in the United States. Even now, two of the release’s songs remain very well-known to interested individuals, with one being “Rock the Casbah” and the other being “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” Having said that, Combat Rock does contain certain weaknesses that in retrospect seem like forewarnings of what was to come for the band.
2. The Clash
The Clash would be the band’s self-titled debut studio album. It did well enough in the United Kingdom, as shown by how it claimed the number 12 position on the U.K. charts. Meanwhile, it wasn’t even released in the United States until 1979, which was a couple of years after its own initial release. Regardless, these numbers don’t say much about The Clash’s quality. Punk is pretty mainstream nowadays. However, things were very different in the 1970s, seeing as how it was still starting out. In the present time, the release is considered to be one of the greatest punk studio albums ever made, so much so that it might be even better than London Calling in that regard. It is a bit unpolished when compared with its successors, but in a way, that makes it even more punk because of how well that resonates with the movement’s emphasis on DIY.
1. London Calling
Simply put, London Calling was a glorious release. The band had already started experimenting with Give ‘Em Enough Rope. However, it was on London Calling that it showed just how wide-ranging the band members’ musical interests could be, seeing as how it incorporated influences that ranged from reggae and rockabilly to ska and New Orleans R&B. Simultaneously, it was every bit as willing to speak out about socio-political issues, which resonated a great deal with its intended audience. Combined, these factors made London Calling not just one of the most influential releases of punk rock but one of the most influential releases of modern music as a whole.