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.

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Saturday Night Live

The Clash live in Tokyo in 1982- fully embracing both much larger arenas and the Apocalypse Now! look. This gig lacks the ragged, close up, immediacy of the 1980 Paris one I posted two weeks ago but is still pretty tasty. Considering Topper would be ejected from the drum stool within the next year for heroin problems he’s bang on the beat here. Joe is in full on front man mode and Mick works his way through the guitar handbook and volume control. Pearl Harbour (of And The Explosions and Mrs Simonon) pops up for a bash through Wanda Jackson’s Fujiyama Mama, they finish with White Riot and everyone goes home happy.

Clash Friday

I found this photo of The Clash and various associates I’d never seen before. That’s Joe on the far left with his back to camera, next to him fixer and tour manager Kosmo Vinyl, Paul Simonon centre with shirt undone and Pearl Harbour between him and Mick. Not completely sure who the blonde woman sitting on the ghetto blaster is, possibly Joe’s then girlfriend (I could probably consult a book and find her name)- the one with the fan I’m pretty sure is Mick’s girlfriend Ellen Foley. I also don’t quite recognise the man between Paul and Kosmo but by process of elimination guess he’s either one of the roadcrew or a member of The Explosions (although he doesn’t look like any of The Explosions in the pictures on a Google image search). I’m guessing this is backstage in Japan circa 1982. Pearl Harbour and The Explosions supported them on their Far East tour, and the hair and clobber look very much like their get ups on the cover of Combat Rock. It’s anyone’s guess where Topper has disappeared off too.

In this extremely grainy, taped from Japanese TV clip Pearl fronts The Clash on Wanda Jackson’s Fujiyama Mama before and then sticks around adding vocals while they play their cover of The Equals’ Police On My Back and White Riot.

Here’s that original of Police On My Back by The Equals…

Police On My Back

Friday Night Is Rockabilly Night 27

This week’s rockabilly rave-up comes from 1981, covered in Clash connections. That’s Pearl and Mick Jones in the picture above. Pearl Harbour had fronted what the Americans call a ‘new wave’ band (Pearl Harbour and The Explosions) who made a mediocre album. By 1980 she had fallen in with The Clash, and recorded a rockabilly inspired album called Don’t Follow Me… I’m Lost Too, much of which which sounds surprisingly good today, 29 years later. It bombed at the time. Pearl’s boyfriend Kosmo Vinyl (Clash tour manager and self styled ‘consiglieri’) and Pearl decided she and the album should stand on their two feet, and so there were few credits on the album’s sleeve despite it’s stellar line-up which would surely have gained it more attention. Produced by Blockhead and Clash touring keyboardist Mickey Gallagher, and with Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, and Topper Headon from The Clash and Wilco Johnson (ex-Dr Feelgood) amongst others playing the instruments. Pearl and Paul Simonon were married for much of the 80s, and she appeared on stage with The Clash. There’s youtube footage of her performing this song, Fujiyama Mama, with The Clash in Japan. Fujiyama Mama was a hit in the 50s for rockabilly Queen Wanda Jackson, whose songs have popped up on Friday nights here before. Anyway, take it away Pearl…

02 Fujiyama Mama (Album Version).mp3