What Is The Dream? To Live Like They Do In The Movies?

This is Kosmo Vinyl. According to Wikipedia his occupation is ‘talent manager’. He joined The Clash’s team in 1979/80, when Bernie Rhodes stepped back in to manage the band. Kosmo was spokesman, road manager, fixer, mouthpiece and all round aide-de-camp to the Strummer, Jones, Simonon and Headon as they went about breaking into the USA. He introduced them on stage and is heard on the Live At Shea Stadium album, supporting the Who in 1982. Before working with The Clash he was involved with Ian Dury and The Jam.

Kosmo contributed a vocal performance to the song Red Angel Dragnet, on Combat Rock. Paul Simonon takes the lead vocal on Red Angel Dragnet, speaking/shouting about a trip through New York City at night. Kosmo adds some lines from Taxi Driver, that famous psychotic stuff from Travis Bickle about how ‘some day a real rain will come and wash all the scum off the streets’. Paul’s descent into late night madness, over a jerky, funky backing, then goes free association (presumably with input or written wholesale by Strummer), loads of memorable lines about champagne on ice, Alcatraz, woman afraid to walk through the park at night, the Guardian Angels, the dream of living like they do in the movies, hands up for Hollywood, saving the girl, who shot the shot that shot the cop that made him drop? Silly stuff but highly enjoyable. This version is from the Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg bootleg, a rougher mix with organ to the fore, slightly different vocals and ending, and without Glyn Johns’ later FM sheen.

Red Angel Dragnet (Early version)

Kosmo (real name Mark Dunk) married an American and has lived in the States ever since. His current occupation is managing a large New York apartment block. A West Ham United fan in exile, 3474 miles from Upton Park, he spent the 2011/12 football season producing a pop-art influenced collage of the result of every game the Hammers played that season and then posting them on his blog Is Saitch Yer Daddy?┬áHe’s been at it ever since. They were exhibited in London last year- something I only found out about a couple of weeks ago while looking for something else on the net. Here are a couple, the first one with my team beating his 1-0 at Old Trafford. No guarantees that will happen this season.

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Rise And Fall

I found this excellent documentary on Youtube over the weekend, The Rise And Fall Of The Clash, directed by Danny Garcia and co-written by Mick’s schoolmate (and subject of Stay Free) Robin Banks. The footage and talking head interviews are fairly standard but within this film lurks some awkward and uncomfortable truths. The title is a bit of a misnomer- it’s about the fall of the band rather than their rise and the aftermath of their gigs at Shea Stadium where they seemed to have cracked the US with a hit lp (Combat Rock) and a pair of singles (Rock The Casbah and Should I Stay Or Should I Go?). The causes of the fall are pretty well known- Topper’s sacking, Joe’s insistence on bringing Bernie Rhodes back as manager, Mick’s timekeeping, the internal and political contradictions of being famous and successful versus being a political band who started out in a squat- but this film has some insightful interviews with some of the main players and bystanders- Mick Jones himself, Pearl Harbour (Paul’s girlfriend at the time), security man Raymond Jordan, Terry Chimes/Tory Crimes, Viv Albertine, Tymon Dogg, Mickey Gallagher and Vic Goddard. The cast are divided about Bernie Rhodes, central to the story and the split- some think he’s an anarchic genius who gave The Clash an edge they needed. Some think he’s an enormous bellend.

The second half of the film is where it becomes less well-known and more compulsive. The story of The Clash Mk2, without the sacked Mick Jones and with three new members- Pete Howard, Nick Shepherd and Greg ‘Vince’ White. The treatment these three got was, to be frank, appalling and how Joe and Paul went along with it is jaw dropping. Vince White deserves some kind of award. Joe and Paul then go onto to record and then leave to Bernie to finish and mix the Cut The Crap album, a record largely expunged from the official histories of the band. Grim, uncomfortable and fascinating stuff. Even if you’ve little interest in The Clash or think you’ve seen enough Clash documentaries, you should set aside ninety minutes for this.

This Was Radio Clash

I missed this on Boxing Day due to family commitments but it’s worth catching up with today (or any day up until Thursday, readers outside the UK may need to search the internet a little deeper)- Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon chatting and playing records for BBC6 here. Opening with Bowie’s Laughing Gnome the surviving 75% of The Clash take in Adam Faith, The Meters, Afika Bambaataa, The Kinks, Desmond Dekker, Junior Murvin, Chuck Berry, Shuggie Otis, Grandmaster Flash, Arctic Monkeys and a load more besides. All three are engaging hosts and former manager Bernie Rhodes also makes repeated appearances in a disguised squeeky voiced form.

I’ve Got My Motorcycle Jacket But I’m Walking All The Time

In 1985 Bernie Rhodes managed something that no previous line-up of The Clash had done; he made an almost completely useless Clash album. The Clash Mark II are not fondly remembered- no Mick, no Topper, the three new guys (not their fault I suppose, they were in an impossible position), Paul losing interest. Bernie had been brought back as Clash manager at Joe’s insistence, partly leading to Mick’s sacking. By the time they went into the studio to make an album Bernie got Joe to record various songs, then moved himself into the studio, ignored the band and went for the cheapest sounding drum machine he could find. The Cut The Crap album was in essence a Bernie Rhodes solo album with Joe singing. From it’s cartoon mohicaned punk on the sleeve things go rapidly downhill. Apart from this song; the only song from Cut The Crap with any real merit. The recording and production aren’t too bad to be honest and the swelling football crowd chorus works. Joe’s bleak mid-80s lyrics make this song a home-based sequel to Straight To Hell in a way. It deserved better.

This Is England