Results for The Clash

interviews

Jimmy Cliff

Singer-songwriter Jimmy Cliff walked away with his second "Best Reggae Album" Grammy last week. Rebirth is Cliff's 30th reggae record in a career that spans the history of the genre. Talking to Jim and Greg, he traces the evolution of reggae from party music celebrating Jamaican independence, to a more introspective music about roots, spirituality, and identity. While he may not be as famous as countryman Bob Marley, Cliff was instrumental in breaking reggae in the U.S. As the starring actor and songwriter for the cult film The Harder They Come, he introduced Americans to Rastafarian culture, dancehall music, and his own hits "You Can Get It If You Really Want" and "The Harder They Come." Cliff might be a reggae founding father, but he's no purist. He talks approvingly of punk's adoption of reggae sounds and even returns the compliment: Rebirth features a cover of The Clash's "Guns of Brixton," a song originally inspired by The Harder They Come.

Go to episode 377

Lily Allen

British import Lily Allen is Jim and Greg's guest this week. The hosts have been fans of the 21-year-old for over a year, however her album Alright, Still, was just released in the U.S. While Lily is now launching a full-blown American invasion with major label backing and major press and appearances, she started with more humble means. The singer/songwriter initially drew buzz after posting some songs on her MySpace.com page.

While her career is grassroots, Lily's upbringing still has star power. Her father is British comedian and personality Keith Allen, and she spent many of her family vacations with Uncle Joe. (That's Joe Strummer to you and me). In fact, the singer can boast that she has performed at Wembley with The Clash before she was old enough to buy herself a pint.

Jim and Greg are drawn to Lily's sound, which is a pastiche of pop, reggae, ska and even a bit of '60s“space-age bachelor pad”music. But, it's her lyrics that really“slay”them. Lily writes about everything from an average life in London to a failed relationship with a great deal of honesty, humor, and most of all, attitude. Listen to her performances of hits "LDN" and "Smile," and check out these exclusive bonus tracks.

Go to episode 65

Alex Cox

Repo Man Filmmaker Alex Cox joins Jim and Greg this week for a lively conversation about his punk rock-infused movies like Repo Man, Sid and Nancy, and Walker. Though originally from Liverpool, Cox first encountered punk rock through the Los Angeles scene of bands like Fear, Suicidal Tendencies, and Black Flag. When he made his debut film Repo Man in 1984, he enlisted all his favorite bands for the soundtrack. The movie was initially a flop, but the popularity of that legendary soundtrack album eventually turned it into a cult classic. Cox followed up that with another definitive punk film – Sid and Nancy, a biopic of the Sex Pistols' Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen.

Sid and Nancy was the beginning of a long collaboration between Cox and Joe Strummer of The Clash. Strummer appeared in and composed for the spaghetti western homage Straight to Hell and the controversial 1987 film Walker. Alex Cox speaks with Jim and Greg about working with Strummer, enlisting both Iggy Pop and Michael Nesmith of The Monkees to make Repo Man, and the difficulties of making political films in Hollywood.

Go to episode 632

The Mekons

To put it simply, The Mekons are a bit of an enigma. The 40-year-old band hails from the English punk scene, with contemporaries including The Sex Pistols and The Clash. However since 1977, The Mekons have been writing their own unique narrative. The group worshipped American roots music from artists like Hank Williams, and blended their raucous live performance style with sounds of punk, country, folk and more. The Mekons have always had a revolving line-up, and three members joined Jim and Greg for a chat and live performance: Jon Langford, Tom Greenhalgh and Lu Edmonds. They talk about their long career, a short stint on a major label and the unusual methods used to record their latest album, Existentalism.

Go to episode 578
specials

1977 - The Year Punk Broke

This week, Jim and Greg kick off a two-part series about one seminal year in rock history, 1977: The Year Punk Broke. In this episode, they tackle the punk explosion in the U.K. with help from music writer Jon Savage. (Many consider Savage's England's Dreaming to be the definitive book on this period.) So what made punk explode in 1977? Jon chalks it up to a whole lot of rubbish pop music - songs like ABBA's“Fernando”and Elton John's“Don't Go Breaking My Heart”- that were marketed to kids but failed to address concerns about unemployment, consumerism, and of course, parents and other authority figures. More immediately, there was The Ramones playing their first London gig, and inspiring bands from The Buzzcocks to The Sex Pistols to The Damned. The Sex Pistols were the first to make a splash with their controversial single"God Save the Queen," banned across the British media. That Never Mind the Bullocks, Here's the Sex Pistols was still able to chart, Jon says, demonstrated the muscle of a nascent, independent youth media organized around fanzines and record shops like Rough Trade and Beggar's Banquet. For those who think all U.K. punk sounded the same, Jon points out some key differences. While The Sex Pistols“really had a dark heart,”The Clash had the social consciousness of a sixties band. Manchester's The Buzzcocks were into psychedelia. Regardless of any one band's take on the genre however, punk's message was the same. In Jon's words: "Pop music doesn't have to be something that oppresses you. It can actually liberate you."

Jim and Greg close out 1977 Part One by playing two favorite songs from this year. Greg goes out with The Adverts' "One Chord Wonder." Not only did The Adverts have the best names in punk - T.V. Advert, Gaye Advert, Howard Pickup, and Laurie Driver - they epitomized the genre's“no skill required”ethos. Jim goes with the Wire track "Ex-Lion Tamer" from one of his favorite records of all time, Pink Flag. This quartet of art students not only embodied the punk sound in 1977, they were also looking forward to the possibilities of post-punk.

Go to episode 350
classic album dissections
London CallingLondon Calling available on iTunes

The Clash London Calling

Next up is a patented Sound Opinions Classic Album Dissection – this time of one of the greatest double albums of rock history: London Calling by The Clash, which recently celebrated the 35th anniversary of its US release. London Calling represented a huge leap forward for the English band. All four members seemed to be at their peak during writing and recording: Joe Strummer on rhythm guitar and vocals, Mick Jones on lead guitar and vocals, Paul Simonon on bass and Nicky“Topper”Headon on drums. They were paired with the unconventional Guy Stevens and engineer Bill Price and were able to draw from a variety of influences – reggae, ska, rockabilly, and jazz – all layered on their particular brand of punk rock. The songwriting partnership of Strummer and Jones was at its high point. Jim and Greg are both moved by Strummer's lyrics, which demonstrate a very sophisticated worldview. To demonstrate the greatness of London Calling, they play two standout tracks: "Spanish Bombs" and "Clampdown."

Go to episode 514
London CallingLondon Calling available on iTunes

The Clash London Calling

Next up is a patented Sound Opinions Classic Album Dissection-this time of one of the greatest double albums of rock history: London Calling by The Clash. London Calling recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, and it was a huge leap forward for the English band. All four members seemed to be at their peak during writing and recording: Joe Strummer on rhythm guitar and vocals, Mick Jones on lead guitar and vocals, Paul Simonon on bass and Nicky“Topper”Headon on drums. They were paired with the unconventional Guy Stevens and engineer Bill Price and were able to draw from a ton of new influences-reggae, ska, rockabilly, jazz and rock. Also, the songwriting team of Strummer and Jones was at a high point. Jim and Greg are both moved by Strummer's lyrics, which demonstrate a sophisticated worldview, and play two standout tracks: "Spanish Bombs" and "The Clampdown."

Go to episode 228
reviews
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm NotWhatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not available on iTunes

The Arctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

One of the albums Jim and Greg review this week made so much news that they need to discuss it at the top of the show. The British band The Arctic Monkeys broke records this week when its debut album became the fastest selling in British chart history. While neither Jim nor Greg can fully comprehend this phenomenon, they both like the record. Jim gives the album a Buy It rating, but admits that The Arctic Monkeys are not nearly as amazing as the hype might have you believe. Greg likes lead singer Alex Turner's Streets-like approach to lyrics, but doesn't think the Arctic Monkeys are a great band yet. He gives Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not a Buy It too.

The Arctic Monkeys are not the first British band to face this kind of hype. There have been a number of UK bands who achieved rave reviews and huge success but were never able to break out across the pond. A look at lists compiled by British media outlets The Guardian and NME demonstrate this point. Bands like The Jam, The Stone Roses, The Libertines, Blur and The Smiths are up there with The Beatles and The Clash in the minds and hearts of British fans and critics, yet none of these groups achieved any major fame in the States. One theory given by Jim: Americans are discerning of imports ever since the first "British Invasion." Greg points out that there was a second British invasion in the '80s, and wonders if it is the very Britishness of some of these bands that prevent American fans from identifying. Or perhaps some tastes just don't translate.

JimGreg
Go to episode 10
The Good, the Bad & the QueenThe Good, the Bad and the Queen available on iTunes

The Good, the Bad and the Queen The Good, the Bad and the Queen

The final album up for review this week is by The Good, the Bad and the Queen. The band is a“supergroup”of sorts, formed by former Blur frontman Damon Albarn. Like with his project Gorillaz, Albarn is joined by a number of big name musicians and producers including The Clash bassist Paul Simonon, Verve guitarist Simon Tong, pioneer and Africa 70 drummer Tony Allen and DJ Danger Mouse. Fans are anxiously awaiting a potential Blur reunion, but for now they have this group's self-titled debut. Jim, for one, is sated. He thinks Albarn is one of the greatest creative forces working today and finds the album to be a really effective, sustained mood piece. He gives The Good, the Bad and the Queen a Buy It. Greg, on the other hand, was completely bored by the record. He didn't hear any all-star talent from the all-star lineup and gives a Trash It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 61
Living With the LivingLiving With the Living available on iTunes

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists Living With the Living

Next up is a review of Living With the Living by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. This is the band's fifth album, but first to be released by Touch and Go Records. Greg thinks Leo is full of energy and enthusiasm, but explains that the singer/songwriter wears his musical influences on his sleeve. It's not difficult to hear the reference points of The Clash, The Kinks and The Jam. Jim agrees, and explains that where the music falls short is when it goes the reggae route. He doesn't think Leo and the band are very good at that style, but adds that The Clash weren't that great at it either. Neither Jim nor Greg can recommend Living With the Living as a whole, but both critics say that Leo and the band give a great live show. The album gets two Burn Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 68
Shape Shift with MeShape Shift with Me available on iTunes

Against Me! Shape Shift with Me

Against Me! has been active since forming in Gainesville, Florida in 1997, but 2014 proved to be the pivotal year in the band's history. Its leader Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender and the band released its most successful record to date, Transgender Dysphoria Blues. While that record was explicitly about her transition, Greg says the followup Shape Shift with Me examines her post-transition relationships, trading in some of the anthems for a film noir feel. Greg wishes the production sounded less meticulously layered, but the songwriting is very strong, filled with both sincerity and humor. Jim likes the darker, slower moments on this album, but points out that there is still plenty of rabble rousing anthemic rock. When all is said and done, Jim believes we'll see Against Me! as the true inheritors of the political legacy of The Clash. Although Laura Jane Grace writes personal songs, Jim says you don‘t have to be living her same journey to be able to find inspiration. It’s another double-Buy It for Shape Shift with Me.

JimGreg
Go to episode 566
dijs

Jim

“I'm So Bored with the USA”The Clash

Jim's miniature society held their annual show recently, bringing together fellow tiny soldier geeks from all over the world. Jim's international friends often expressed bewilderment on how long we Americans drag out this grueling election process. Even the most patriotic Americans, regardless of politics, seem ready for the campaign to end. So Jim nominates a song for the Desert Island Jukebox that reflects that malaise: "I'm So Bored with the USA" from the 1977 debut from The Clash. It began as a Mick Jones-penned anti-love song called "I'm So Bored with You", but Joe Strummer misheard the lyrics and rewrote them to be more topical. The result is another classic melodic anthem from the punk pioneers.

Go to episode 570
lists

Best Cover Songs

In the age of karaoke and“American Idol,”it's easy to forget how great a cover song can be. But, as Jim and Greg discuss, an artist's interpretation of someone else's song can often be better than the original. In those cases, the performer brings passion and a new spin to a song. During the course of the show, Jim and Greg run down their picks for best cover songs. (For an even longer list of noteworthy cover songs, go to the thread on the Sound Opinions Message Board.)

Go to episode 79

Songs About Work

Despite the fact that most musicians spend their lives avoiding a“real job,”there are a number of great songs about the drudgery and the glory of hard work. During this Labor Day episode Jim and Greg play their favorite Songs About Work.

Go to episode 301

Work Songs

Despite the fact that most musicians spend their lives avoiding a“real job,”there are a number of great songs about the drudgery and the glory of hard work. For this Labor Day episode Jim and Greg play their favorite Songs About Work.

Lou Reed

Go to episode 197
news

Music News

Rock ‘n’ Roll suffered a great loss last week after the death of punk rocker and standard bearer Tommy Ramone. Tommy, born Erdélyi Tamás, wore many different hats as founder, drummer, producer, and last surviving original member of The Ramones. He and his bandmates leave behind a tremendous influence, one which can be traced to the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and countless others. Greg says of the Ramones‘ musical clout,“If you listened to them, they changed your life,”and that Tommy was truly“the brains of the operation.”A guiding force for the group throughout the years, his break-neck drumming and seasoned hand in the production booth were fundamental in molding the band’s history-making style. He was 65.

Go to episode 451

Music News

A story out of the British press tickled Jim and Greg's fancy this week. England's Essex FM decided to launch a boycott of recent pop phenomenon James Blunt. Blunt, apparently peeved by critics bashing him, instructed the haters to just stop playing his music. Essex FM gladly took the challenge and banned both of his hit singles from their airwaves. Sound Opinions would like to encourage all radio programmers to take Blunt up on his challenge. And while we are at it, there are a few other overplayed radio hits we'd like to discuss…

Finland loves its masked death metal bands. Finnish band Lordi, who recently won the Eurovision prize, became the source of a recent uproar when the lead singer was“unmasked”by two tabloid newspapers. Fans of the masked rockers were so upset by this disrespectful move that over 200,000 of them have signed a petition forcing one of the tabloids to apologize. Sound Opinions fans need not fear however: The true identities of Jim and Greg will never be revealed.

In some sad news, Desmond Dekker died this week at the age of 63. Dekker is credited with bringing the ska and reggae sounds of Jamaica to the West, most notably with the hit "Israelites." Dekker influenced fellow countryman Bob Marley, but his impact in the U.S. and England was most notable in the ska scene. You can still hear Dekker's sound in the music of bands like The Clash, the Sex Pistols and more recently, No Doubt and Less than Jake.

Go to episode 27