Ray Lowry- 1979 ‘War Artist’

We’ve been to Salford Museum and Art Gallery today. There’s nothing like dragging two children, one with special needs, round an art gallery and museum. Salford’s has two main attractions- Larkhill Place, a mocked up Victorian Street, which is ace and kids love it, and a temporary exhibition (on until 7th March) of cartoons, paintings and photos by The Clash’s 1979 US tour ‘war artist’ (c. Joe Strummer) Ray Lowry. Born in Salford, Ray contributed cartoons and illustrations to the NME, The Face, Punch and Private Eye during the golden ages of all those publications. He spent many years living in Rossendale, several towns in a valley halfway between Bury and Burnley, next door to someone in knew when I worked up that way during the 90s. It’s free and well worth a visit. The Clash pictures are cool, there are early versions and sketches of the London Calling sleeve, some interesting oil paintings of Salford, and a load of Ray’s correspondence with a friend. Ray died suddenly in 2008, and seemed to spend much of his later years either in the pub or trying hard to stay out of the pub. As I said, well worth a visit if you’re a fan of any of the above.

The track here is the original version of Should I Stay Or Should I Go, not the one that made it onto Combat Rock and to number 1 on the back of that Levi’s advert. Mick Jones saw The Clash’s fifth lp as a double, after the double London Calling and triple Sandinista, and it was worked on as Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg, a 15 track monster rather than the slimmed down radio friendly lp that cracked America in 1982. There are versions of Rat Patrol… out there in internet land, including the extra tracks that later turned up as B-sides like First Night Back In London and Cool Confusion,and some that were never officially released like Walk Evil Talk and The Beautiful People Are Ugly Too. It also has longer and different versions of lp tracks like Inoculated City, Atom Tan and Straight To Hell. I’ll post some at some point if anyone’s interested. Joe and producer Glyn Johns won the day and Mick’s lp was shrunk and edited and glossed up. Should I Stay… is probably their best-known song. This version is different enough to make you want to listen to it again, longer (naturally), rougher, different vocals and more of Joe’s Spanish bit. This one’s for Ray Lowry-gone.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go.mp3

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