Thanks for that as always very interesting read even though i am personally insulted at bernie shit ethos as that clearly does not match a clash fan.at all and was never going to work in a million years. Its sounds more a con and a invented lifetime career for himself hes next move would be to get the band to invest in to a clash pension fund.
I remember seeing them on the out of control tour at brixton and the we are the clash song had totally won me over the whole place was singing along to the chorus i can tell you all the guys up on stage were on fire and Joe was right on form. As crazy as this comment sounds at the time and in that place it felt like they didnt need Mick anymore.
But that clash gig had me waiting in full anticipation for the new album my expectations after hearing the new songs live was at its highest. i have heard someone else say this here at some time, and i was the same, i was literally looking for a problem with my record player checking speed and everything. I know TIE was out first and i thought that sounded shit but as soon as the album was out i thought they are over and finished.
So the point i am making all they needed to do was get the album right even just go in and record it live would have done it and they would have been ok.
Agreed, for sure, Hugh. I remember leaving that MSU gig with the same feeling. Or should I say, we all did, as I went with two of my close friends (and two of their friends). We all left that night, saying, "If they can get a fraction of that energy in the studio, they'll definitely have made the comeback to end all comebacks." I remember going home, and -- the energy still not quite having worn off -- blasting that first and second album on headphones.
Little did we know, of course, what awaited us the following year. That was why the letdown felt so big, because so much had been promised, and so little delivered. And yeah, I remember getting TIBAD at the same time, and being totally wowed by it, thinking -- "This is where we're heading, and it sounds exciting." So yeah, it's ironic that, considering how publicly dismissive Joe had been of his ex-partner's efforts, that a) he ended up releasing his record at the same time, and b) to a certain extent, traveled down the same road.
Yes the old party line by Bernie and Joe that any version of The Clash could continue and be "The Clash". Total crap really and the truth to "We Are The Clash" is they were telling the world so what if Mick and Topper are gone we're still "The Clash". It had to be written in response to Mick saying tongue in cheek that he was going to take the real Clash on the road.
As for the crap "C.C.Rockers" t-shirt that Joe wore. Remember when the "Rockers" were not a gang but a nod to jamaican roots rock reggae. Plus the awful "rock, rock, Clash City Rockers!" In "We Are The Clash" just so sad.
Hell, I kind of liked that shirt! Growing up like I did, in a coastal town, far removed from the flames of (quote-unquote) burning London -- I really wanted to get my hands one of those suckers! It looked like the coolest thing since sliced bread to me. They go for a fairly decent rate on eBay now, as well.
So instead, I made do with a white sleeveless T-shirt that I got for free, from one of my cohorts in journalism class, no less -- who'd worked that MSU show, and wanted to move on, and (cough, cough, ahem) put those childish things behind. I remember him saying how he was gonna anglicize his name, this being the Reagan era 'n' all, because he wasn't sure he'd make it otherwise. To which I replied...
"Are you f#cking kidding me? I'm keeping mine, because I want the bastards to have to spell it. Every time!"
My classmate rolled his eyes, but he knew well enough to let me rabbit on. Which I did.
But I sold that one on eBay, too, as I mentioned on BMC.
Whatever its provenance, i always thought WATC was close to the nadir of this period. To try and put it in context, i imagine how I'd feel if another band had come up with something similar - We Are The Jam/Rolling Stones/U2/Pointer Sisters whatever. I'd heap scorn on them and it would be richly deserved.
I know self reference and mythology wasnt a new thing for the band but when it worked, it was good, when it went wrong it sucked many multiple times over.
But tribalism's always been part of the band thing, which is why they write songs about it, right? I see WATC as something instigated by Bernie, in the sense of, "We need an anthem," because he was pretty big on that kind of thing. "We need a mission statement, Joe."
Even the above examples you cite, you could probably find a song or two that fits that description -- I always saw Art School or All Around The World as the Jam's efforts in those areas.
Is that where they were going with the terrace chants? ie the Clash was going to be a football team basically, with supremo Bernie Mourinho as manager, and members subbed and transferred in as he deemed fit?
Well, in many ways, yeah -- as I've already alluded. And I'm not defending it, by any stretch of the imagination, but again -- the football metaphor did come up as well. Kosmo told us that Bernie used that on a fairly regular basis, too, the notion that different members could come in and out, but that the band could somehow survive, even thrive, in the face of that challenge.
But I think it's important to understand that aspect of BR's thinking, or else you miss the subtext of what went on behind the scenes. A lot of books tend to soft-pedal or dismiss his involvement, but to me, it's one of the most crucial aspects of the story to understand.
And to think someone voted for the out of tune Dictator i mean wtf
That song was good until they took it to the studio but its just awful on the album.
I would really have liked to of heard a good production of that album and i feel the songs are good enough and deserve a chance.
For me history shows that Mick Jones was clearly the talent behind the clash and if Bernie had tried his ethos on Mick he would have been told on no certain terms where to go
Bernie is a fascinating guy with some great ideas. But sadly the idea that anyone could be in The Clash completely fails to acknowledge the human element of what makes a band a band. Yes you can replace members that's never going to be a problem. But what you can never replace is the chemistry and history of what those people have been through together .
The Clash were never just another pop group/boy band where all you need do is write a nice tune and have hit then bingo success. The Clash were a fight a struggle of ideas and personal politics. Whilst I've never liked the tag "The only band that mattered" you understand as a fan of the band just how much people loved them and the lives and attitudes they affected.
Agreed, though it's interesting to think how things have changed since CTC's release. Back then, The Band was very much, The Band -- as in, it's either these three, four or five guys, or it's not. And if Key Member A, B or C leaves, then it's game over.
What have we got today? Bands touring with a 50 percent quorum of two original members (The Damned), one original member (often compromised as The Twerptones Featuring So 'n' So, like Vice Squad), and sometimes, no original members (One Way System, or Humble Pie, whose drummer, Jerry Shirley, the last remaining original, retired, but gave the others his blessing to continue).
As far as I can tell, it doesn't bother the public a whit. If they did, none of those bands that I've mentioned, and many, many others, would be able to carry on doing it. As much as people bitch about it, I don't see anybody demanding their money back, at least, not on that basis.
So, in that sense, that aspect of BR's vision has
come true -- as well as his blueprint of the CTC era, in which the producer brings everyone in, one piece at a time, then painstakingly assembles it, before comping, filtering and the processing the heck out of it.
The writing aspect of it is the same -- this guy comes up with the beat, that one with the hook, a committee of all hands on deck then writes the all-important melody line. If you really want to get good and depressed about this stuff, read The Song Machine
, which goes into much gorier detail about those particular wicked, wicked ways.
As Nick told me (mind you, going from memory here), when I asked him about BR"s involvement-at-all-costs ethic: "I don't like him, but I don't think his intentions were bad. He wanted to make a record that would sell millions, and establish him as a genius. Surprisingly enough, he failed."
The fatal flew here being, a) BR wasn't willing to take other ideas on board (unlike, say, in the dub world, where Executive Producer So-and-So is simply the guy who funds the session, and gets a credit as such, but lets the engineer and the musicians get on and do the work), and b) CTC's producer was someone who had often gone on record with his fondness for black musical forms like soul and reggae, yet had waxed witheringly dismissive of mainstream rock 'n' roll.
You could see how that might prove problematic, in light of Joe's promises to make a punk rock record for the ages. But if you look at what was
happening in that era -- Malcom McLaren over here, with his Duck Rock stuff; Trevor Horn over there, with ZTT and FGTH -- you can see how Bernie might have looked at those guys, or the many, many others like them, and said, "I'll have some of that."
This ethos was a big part of the early to mid-'80s, right down to the post-punk level, where you have the notion of "It's not a band, it's a cor-po-ra-tion
" (as Lydon intoned to Tom Snyder) filtering down to those ranks, too (though usually with a fraction of the big money and/or success of a Trevor Horn).
In that sense, Bernie's experiments were not without precedent, even if they -- how shall we put it poiltely here -- went sideways. But I fought to keep that part of the discussion in the book, because, while those of us who were around back then could remember this stuff, and appreciate it, today's reader might wonder what all the fuss was about.
The irony here is that Bernie didn't get uber-richer and ever more famous from this "one piece at a time" vision of his (perhaps culminating in his private jet, with the BR monogram on the side). Because, in the end, neither Bernie's nor Joe's hopes for CTC were to be realized.
Joe's hopes weren't, in that he somehow imagined getting MJ back in the fold, and "fixing" what he'd tried to "fix" by sacking him in the first place -- though how that would have happened is anybody's guess, with Mick firmly established in his new direction (and Joe, as we've seen, tied to the Clash for, well, eons, contractually).
Bernie's hopes weren't, in that he looked for CTC to launch him as starmaker/supremo extraordinaire, albeit one with a taste for hit singles laced with the odd cryptic Baader Meinhof reference, perhaps, just to keep Those Kids -- 'cause, remember, it's all about, Those Kids, whoever they might be, right -- on their conceptual toes.
The net result being, that the industry closed ranks and shoved him out. Because, not only did the fans did take CTC's failure personally, but so did the industry's major gatekeepers, who might have tolerated BR's eccentricities a bit longer, and not been opposed to some form of the Clash going, as long as it rung up the appropriate numbers of units.
In the end, of course, their hopes were to be dashed, as well -- which is why BR hasn't done much since, I think, and why I sometimes like to call him the Orson Welles of punk.
Because the outcome was more or less the same, minus the Lifetime Achievement Award, perhaps, as only Hollywood can bestow.