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The Clash is the eponymous debut studio album by English punk rock band the Clash. It was released on 8 April 1977, through CBS Records. It is widely celebrated as one of the greatest punk albums of all time.


Most of the album was conceived on the 18th floor of a council high rise on London's Harrow Road, in a flat that was rented by Mick Jones's grandmother, who frequently went to see their live concerts.[1] The album was recorded over three weekend sessions at CBS Studio 3 in February 1977. By the third of these sessions the album was recorded and mixed to completion, with the tapes being delivered to CBS at the start of March. It cost £4000 to produce.

Album cover[]

The cover artwork was designed by Polish artist Rosław Szaybo. The album's front cover photo, shot by Kate Simon, was taken in the alleyway directly opposite the front door of the band's 'Rehearsal Rehearsals' building in Camden Market. Drummer Terry Chimes, though a full member of the Clash at the time, did not appear in the picture as he had already decided to leave the group. Another picture from the same Kate Simon photoshoot appears on the UK Special Edition DVD of Rude Boy, released in 2003. The picture of the charging police officers on the rear, shot by Rocco Macauly, was taken during the 1976 riot at the Notting Hill Carnival—the inspiration for the track "White Riot".


The subject of the opening track, "Janie Jones", was a famous brothel keeper in London during the 1970s. "Remote Control" was written by Mick Jones after the Anarchy Tour and contains pointed observations about the civic hall bureaucrats who had cancelled concerts, the police, big business and especially record companies. CBS decided to release the song as a single without consulting the band. "I'm So Bored with the USA", developed from a Mick Jones song, entitled "I'm So Bored with You",[2] condemns the Americanization of the UK.[3] "White Riot" was the Clash's debut single. The song is short and intense, punk style of two chords played very fast (5 chords in total song). Lyrically, it is about class economics and race.[4] "Career Opportunities", the opening track of the second side of the album, attacks the political and economic situation in England at the time, citing the lack of jobs available, and the dreariness and lack of appeal of those that were available.

"Protex Blue", sung by Mick Jones, is about a 1970s brand of condom. It was inspired by the contraceptive vending machine in the Windsor Castle's toilets.[5] The song ends with the shouted phrase "Johnny Johnny!", (rubber) johnny being a British slang term for a condom.

The version of "White Riot" featured on here was not recorded for the album. Instead, they used the original demo version, recorded at Beaconsfield Studios before the band signed to CBS.

"Police & Thieves" was added to the album when the group realised that the track listing was too short. Another cover the band played at these sessions was Bob Marley's "Dancing Shoes". "Garageland" was written in response to Charles Shaar Murray's damning review of the Clash's early appearance at the Sex Pistols Screen on the Green concert – "The Clash are the kind of garage band who should be returned to the garage immediately, preferably with the engine running".[6][7][8] It was the final track recorded for the album.


Released in the United Kingdom through CBS Records on 8 April 1977,[9] engineered by CBS staff engineer Simon Humphrey and produced by Clash live soundman Mickey Foote, at the (since demolished) CBS Whitfield Street Studio No. 3.[10] The Clash was unusually musically varied for a punk band, with reggae and early rock and roll influences plainly evident.


Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 starsStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg[11]
Alternative Press5/5[12]
Blender5/5 starsStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg[13]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music5/5 starsStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg[14]
The Great Rock Discography10/10[15]
Q5/5 starsStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg[16]
Rolling Stone5/5 starsStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg[17]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 starsStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg[18]
Spin Alternative Record Guide10/10[20]

The album received critical acclaim and peaked at number 12 in the UK charts.[21] In his 1979 consumer guide for The Village Voice, critic Robert Christgau gave the album's US import an "A" grade and stated, "Cut for cut, this may be the greatest rock and roll album (plus limited-edition bonus single) ever manufactured in the U.S. It offers 10 of the 14 titles on the band's British debut as well as 7 of the 13 available only on 45. [...] The U.K. version of The Clash is the greatest rock and roll album ever manufactured anywhere".[22] In his decade-end list for the newspaper, he ranked the UK version as the best album of the 1970s.[23]

In February 1993, the New Musical Express magazine ranked the album number 13 in its list of the Greatest Albums of All Time.[24] NME also ranked The Clash number 3 in its list of the Greatest Albums of the '70s, and wrote in the review that "the speed-freaked brain of punk set to the tinniest, most frantic guitars ever trapped on vinyl. Lives were changed beyond recognition by it".

In December 1999, Q magazine rated the album 5 stars out of 5, and wrote that the Clash "would never sound so punk as they did on 1977's self-titled debut....Lyrically still howled with anger".[16] The same magazine placed The Clash at number forty-eight in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever in 2000,[25] and included The Clash in its "100 Best Punk Albums", giving it 5 stars out of 5, in May 2002.[26]

In 2000, Alternative Press rated the album 5 out of 5. Alternative press review saw The Clash as an eternal punk album, a blueprint for the pantomime of "punkier" rock acts, and that for all of its forced politics and angst, the Clash continues to sound crucial.[12]

In May 2001, Spin magazine ranked the album number 3 in its list of the 50 Most Essential Punk Records, and wrote "Punk as alienated rage, as anticorporate blather, as joyous racial confusion, as evangelic outreach and white knuckles and haywire impulses".[27]

In 2003, the US version was ranked number 77 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time about which was said "youthful ambition bursts through the Clash's debut, a machine-gun blast of songs about unemployment, race, and the Clash themselves."[28][29]

In March 2003, Mojo magazine ranked The Clash number 2 in its Top 50 Punk Albums, writing that the album was "the ultimate punk protest album. Searingly evocative of dreary late '70s Britain, but still timelessly inspiring".[30]

Noted Jamaican producer Lee Perry heard the album while in London in 1977, and played it to Bob Marley,[citation needed] who in turn mentioned the Clash on his own track "Punky Reggae Party".

The album was included in Robert Dimery's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Track listing[]

All tracks are written by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, except where noted.

Side one
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."Janie Jones"Strummer2:03
2."Remote Control"Jones, Strummer3:00
3."I'm So Bored with the USA"Strummer2:25
4."White Riot"Strummer1:56
5."Hate and War"Jones, Strummer2:05
6."What's My Name" (Strummer, Jones, Keith Levene)Strummer1:40
8."London's Burning"Strummer2:12
Side two
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."Career Opportunities"Strummer1:52
3."Protex Blue"Jones1:42
4."Police & Thieves" (Junior Murvin, Lee Perry)Strummer6:01
5."48 Hours"Strummer1:34

1979 US version[]

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In the United States, the Clash's debut studio album was released one year after Give 'Em Enough Rope, so it was their second release in the US. CBS in America had decided that the album was 'not radio friendly', so it was initially only available in the States during 1977–1978 as an import, and as such became the best-selling import of the year, shifting over 100,000 copies.[31]

In July 1979, Epic released a modified version of the album for the United States market. This version replaced four songs from the original version with five non-album singles and B-sides, some of which were recorded and released after the Clash's second studio album, Give 'Em Enough Rope (1978). It also used the re-recorded single version of "White Riot", rather than the original take featured on the UK version.

Omitted from the US version were the following tracks:

  • "Deny"
  • "Cheat"
  • "Protex Blue"
  • "48 Hours"
  • "White Riot" (original version)

Added were the following tracks:

  • "Clash City Rockers" – Initially released as a single (A-side) in the UK in February 1978
  • "Complete Control" – Initially released as a single (A-side) in the UK in September 1977
  • "White Riot" (re-recorded version) – Initially released as a single (A-side) in the UK in March 1977
  • "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais" – Initially released as a single (A-side) in the UK in June 1978
  • "I Fought the Law" – Initially released as a track on the Clash EP The Cost of Living in the UK in May 1979
  • "Jail Guitar Doors" – Initially released as the B-side to "Clash City Rockers" in the UK in February 1978

Initial copies of the US version also came with a bonus 7-inch single which featured "Groovy Times" and "Gates of the West".[32] The liner notes incorrectly credit new drummer Nicky Headon for "White Riot".

It was another moderately successful album for the Clash in the United States, even though the sales were likely diluted by the longstanding popularity of the UK version on the import market. The Clash peaked at number 126 on the Billboard charts,[33] setting the stage for the commercial breakthrough of London Calling later that year. Since the Clash's first UK album had already been released in Canada by CBS Records, when CBS Canada released the US version, they changed the cover art so as to not confuse the record buying public. The CBS Canada version of the LP has a dark blue border instead of green. Initial copies also contained the bonus "Groovy Times" 45". Some original pressings of the US version featured "What's My Name?" as track 4 and "Complete Control" as track 11. Though the back of these original pressings list the two songs as they are featured on recent versions of the album.

Track listing[]

All tracks are written by Strummer and Jones, except where noted.

Side one
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."Clash City Rockers"Strummer3:56
2."I'm So Bored with the USA"Strummer2:25
3."Remote Control"Jones, Strummer3:00
4."Complete Control"Strummer3:14
5."White Riot"Strummer1:59
6."(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais"Strummer3:59
7."London's Burning"Strummer2:12
8."I Fought the Law" (Sonny Curtis)Strummer2:41
Side two
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."Janie Jones"Strummer2:03
2."Career Opportunities"Strummer1:52
3."What's My Name" (Strummer, Jones, Levene)Strummer1:40
4."Hate & War"Jones, Strummer2:05
5."Police & Thieves" (Murvin, Perry)Strummer6:01
6."Jail Guitar Doors"Jones3:05


File:Clash stairway.jpg

The stairway where the Clash posed for the cover photo in 2008

The Clash[]


  • Mickey Foote − production, engineering on US version
  • Simon Humphrey − engineering
  • Kate Simon − cover art
  • Rocco Macauly − back cover photo
  • Lee "Scratch" Perry – production on US version
  • Sandy Pearlman – production on US version
  • Bill Price – production on US version

Chart positions[]

Year Chart Position
1977 Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[34] 42
UK Albums (OCC)[21] 12
1979 US Billboard 200[33] 126


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[35] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[36] Gold 500,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[37] Silver 60,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[38] Silver 60,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone


  1. "The Uncut Crap – Over 56 Things You Never Knew About The Clash". NME. London: IPC Magazines. 3. 16 March 1991. ISSN 0028-6362. OCLC 4213418.
  2. Caws, Matthew (December 1995). "Mick Jones". Guitar World. New York: Harris Publications. 12. ISSN 1045-6295. OCLC 7982091.
  3. Interviewer: Unknown; Presenter: Kurt Loder. "MTV Rockumentary". London, England. MTV Cite uses deprecated parameter |transcripturl= (help); Missing or empty |series= (help)
  4. Letts (2001). The Clash: Westway to the World. Event occurs at 25:45–27:40.
  5. "The Windsor Castle". Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  6. Murray, Charles Shaar (5 April 2003). "Joe is dead, but the Clash are immortal". Retrieved 7 May 2010. I described them as the kind of garage band who should be speedily returned to their garage, preferably with the engine running
  7. Letts (2001). The Clash: Westway to the World. Event occurs at 25:00–25:35.
  8. Needs, Kris (November 2004). "HOW I MET THE CLASH". Retrieved 21 November 2007.
  9. The Clash - The Clash (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs
  10. The Clash. Mojo, Mojo Classic issue. p. 33.
  11. Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Clash – The Clash". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 August 2004.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "The Clash: The Clash". Alternative Press. Cleveland (140): 74–75. March 2000.
  13. Wolk, Douglas (21 August 2007). "The Clash: The Clash (U.S. Version)". Blender. New York. Archived from the original on 2 July 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  14. Larkin, Colin (2011). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-857-12595-8.
  15. "The Clash". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "The Clash: The Clash". Q. London (159): 152–33. December 1999.
  17. Miles, Milo (20 June 2002). "The Clash: The Clash". Rolling Stone. New York: 87. Archived from the original on 1 December 2002. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  18. Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). "The Clash". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 167–68. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
  19. "Clash Reissues". Select. London (114): 88. December 1999.
  20. Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  21. 21.0 21.1 April 1977/7502/ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  22. Christgau, Robert (3 September 1979). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  23. Christgau, Robert (17 December 1979). "Decade Personal Best: '70s". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  24. NME (2 February 1993), p. 29
  25. Q (June 2000), p. 70.
  26. Q (May 2002). SE, p. 135.
  27. Spin (May 2001), p. 108.
  28. Rolling Stone (937). 11 December 2003. p. 114. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. Levy, Joe; Steven Van Zandt (2006) [2005]. "77 | The Clash – The Clash". Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (3rd ed.). London: Turnaround. ISBN 1-932958-61-4. OCLC 70672814. Archived from the original on 14 December 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2007. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  30. Mojo (March 2003), p. 76.
  31. Letts (2001). The Clash: Westway to the World. Event occurs at 34:00–36:00.
  32. Letts (2001). The Clash: Westway to the World. Event occurs at 44:40–45:00.
  33. 33.0 33.1 "The Clash - The Clash – Awards". AllMusic. Billboard. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  34. " – The Clash – The Clash". Hung Medien.
  35. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "[[:Template:Certification Cite/Title]]"] Check |url= value (help). British Phonographic Industry. 31 December 1979. URL–wikilink conflict (help) Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type The Clash in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  36. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "[[:Template:Certification Cite/Title]]"] Check |url= value (help). Recording Industry Association of America. 12 November 1991. URL–wikilink conflict (help) If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  37. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "[[:Template:Certification Cite/Title]]"] Check |url= value (help). British Phonographic Industry. 9 August 2013. URL–wikilink conflict (help) Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type The Clash (US Version) in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  38. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "[[:Template:Certification Cite/Title]]"] Check |url= value (help). British Phonographic Industry. 22 December 2013. URL–wikilink conflict (help) Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type The Clash (UK Version) in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

Further reading[]

  • Gilbert, Pat (2005) [2004]. Passion Is a Fashion: The Real Story of The Clash (4th ed.). London: Aurum Press. ISBN 1-84513-113-4. OCLC 61177239.
  • Gray, Marcus (2005) [1995]. The Clash: Return of the Last Gang in Town (5th revised ed.). London: Helter Skelter. ISBN 1-905139-10-1. OCLC 60668626.
  • Green, Johnny; Garry Barker (2003) [1997]. A Riot of Our Own: Night and Day with The Clash (3rd ed.). London: Orion. ISBN 0-7528-5843-2. OCLC 52990890.
  • Gruen, Bob; Chris Salewicz (2004) [2001]. The Clash (3rd ed.). London: Omnibus. ISBN 1-903399-34-3. OCLC 69241279.
  • Needs, Kris (25 January 2005). Joe Strummer and the Legend of the Clash. London: Plexus. ISBN 0-85965-348-X. OCLC 53155325.
  • Topping, Keith (2004) [2003]. The Complete Clash (2nd ed.). Richmond: Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 1-903111-70-6. OCLC 63129186.

External links[]

  • Template:Discogs master