Johnny Rotten sang over and dominated the Sex Pistols with his political anger, his grand anarchist intentions squashing the fun. What they didn’t get was that rock ‘n’ roll’s primary intention should be to entertain rather than shock, which is secondary in my view. Sometimes it means having a good old moan about career opportunities, (as the Clash do on this seminal debut from 1977: ‘I don’t wanna make tea at the BBC!’) as opposed to referencing Nazi imagery (jackboots and all) which seems both iffy and desperate.
I’ve always admired the Clash because, under the whole ‘punk revolution against classic rock’ and their more political leanings, there lies within them a great respect for the timeless culture of rock ‘n’ roll and its inherently tongue-in-cheek humour. Whereas the Sex Pistols whined about the Berlin Wall with angst, The Clash’s grinning portraits of London’s sleazoids are more reminiscent of Lou Reed’s nonchalant dossiers of New York androgyny, or the Stones’ casual vice. I don’t mean to glamorize any of this, and I intend to stear the f*ck clear of that lifestyle. However; Punk’s disregard for history can be pretty childish, and I get the sense that this band balances both being brash and loud (qualifying them as a punk band) as well as a certain self-deprecation, thus entering them into the pantheon of great rock ‘n’ roll bands. Don’t get me started about Sandinista, though.
9 Protex Blues out of 10