March 29, 2007

YET THERE IS NO FRENCH "TRAIN IN VAIN":

Paris calling: Rachid Taha was just one of the musicians inspired by the Clash's visit to Paris in 1981. John Lewis explores the band's enduring influence in France (John Lewis, March 30, 2007, The Guardian)

Rachid Taha wasn't the only musician to be inspired by the Clash on that seven-night residency. Just as the Sex Pistols show at Manchester's Lesser Free Trade Hall in June 1976 served as the catalyst for Morrissey, Ian Curtis, Mark E Smith and Mick Hucknall, the Clash's run at the Théâtre Mogador five years later was witnessed by a veritable who's who of French rock. Manu Chao was in the audience with friends who would later form Mano Negra, as was Helno and his ramshackle world music combo les Négresses Vertes, gypsy rockers Lo'Jo, members of anarchist punk collective Bérurier Noir, and Kortatu, the Basque ska-punk band formed by Fermin Muguruza.

"The gigs were important for many reasons," says Jean-Daniel Beauvallet, editor of the French rock and arts weekly Les Inrockuptibles, who was also at Mogador in 1981. "French pop was always very apolitical. In May 1968, leftwingers were suspicious of music, and pop music in particular, and that suspicion continued for many years. Even when punk kicked off in France in 1977 with bands like the Stinky Toys - who played on the same bill as the Sex Pistols in London - it was very much an arty fashion movement for rich kids. It had none of the anger you got in England at the time. But the Clash changed all that. Mogador '81 was May 1968 gone rock'n'roll: the slogans, the graffiti, the combat fatigues, the air of revolution. It was all there."

"The Clash were militant and hedonistic in equal measure," says Rachid Taha. "And that was exciting to me. You could be a rebel and be in the biggest rock'n' roll band in the world! It was also clear that they loved music. Joe Strummer had nothing to do with that terrible punk cynicism. By the time of Mogador '81 they weren't just a rock'n'roll band, they were doing hip-hop, reggae, ska, country and western, disco, but making it sound their own. I think that's what gave French musicians the confidence to do the same with whatever music they were into. In some ways, they introduced us to the world."


Posted by Orrin Judd at March 29, 2007 9:03 PM
Comments

Just out of curiousity; are you actually endorsing The Clash?

Posted by: gupta at March 29, 2007 10:04 PM

What problem could OJ have with:

"'N I Iike to be in Afarica
A-beatin' on the final drum
'N I like to be in U.S.S.R.
Makin' sure these things will come
'N I like to be in U.S.A.
Pretending that the wars are done
'N I like to be in Europa
Saying goodbye to everyone"

or how about one of the handful of antiabortion lyrics in pop music:

" 'cause everybody knows it's a crying shame,
but nobody knows the poor baby's name
when she forgot that thing that she had
to swallow"

Admittedly, their later political stuff went pretty conventionally left (and musically overblown compared to the first three records), but people who dismiss someone's art or music solely on political grounds (left or right) are missing out.

If you were objecting to them on aesthetic grounds, well, that's a matter of taste.

Posted by: ted welter at March 29, 2007 10:31 PM

The Clash are the great rock band and Train in Vain the archetypal tune:

http://brothersjuddblog.com/archives/2002/07/some_people_wanna_fill_the_wor_1.html

Posted by: oj at March 29, 2007 10:37 PM

"You could be a rebel and be in the biggest rock and roll band in the world!"

Perhaps someone ought to let him know about marketing pre-packeaged mass-produced rebellion-lite, and how the music industry was so good at that. I guess they had the stage lighting set so well that he couldn't see the suits in the back.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 30, 2007 6:57 AM

"You could be a rebel and be in the biggest rock and roll band in the world!"

Perhaps someone ought to let him know about marketing pre-packeaged mass-produced rebellion-lite, and how the music industry was so good at that. I guess they had the stage lighting set so well that he couldn't see the suits in the back.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 30, 2007 7:00 AM

Well, I suppose you can call any attempt to connect with an audience "just marketing," but the Clash were really a breath of fresh air at the time (late 70s/early 80s). "London Calling" (a double album) retailed for 7.99, half of what Fleetwood Mac wanted for "Tusk," and their concert tickets were also relatively reasonable.

So unlike, say, CSNY or the other "politically active" hippy bands that were touring around the same time, the Clash put their money where their mouth was.

Posted by: ted welter at March 30, 2007 10:14 AM

From beginning to end, "London Calling" is the best album ever. Sandinista is one of the most underrated albums.

Some other great Clash tunes: "Police & Thieves", "White Man In Hammersmith Palais", "Washington Bullets", "Career Opportunities". In addition, without the Clash we wouldn't have had Big Audio Dynamite.

Other than great Major League Baseball, NFL football, the Rockford Files and the Talking Heads, the Clash were one of the few good things to come out of the 1970's.

Posted by: pchuck at March 30, 2007 10:29 AM

ted:

And therein lay the wonder of punk--at a time when people like the Beatles took their own politics so seriously and bands took the mudsic so seriously they were doing concept albums and rock operas, the Clash and others just kicked out the jams.

Posted by: oj at March 30, 2007 12:47 PM
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