Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Sean Egan's 'The Clash: The Only Band That Mattered' (2015) - Take Three

Sean Egan's The Clash: The Only Band That Mattered (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield,2015).

A few more tidbits from this action-packed tome. One is diction. It jumped out at me while reading Egan's use of the word "risible" (i.e. laughable): in six instances. From page 22: "In 'Hate & War,' the contrast between the fluidity of Jones's lead guitar and the unimaginative stabbing on rhythm guitar by Strummer is at its most risible." Another is the use of the term "au fait" (conversant or familiar) five times. Example: "Those au fait with the work of Desmond Dekker would have recognized the phrase" (page 114).

Then there's an entire chapter contrasting The Clash with The Jam. The latter became England's darlings, with several hits on Top of the Pops. "In the Shadow of The Jam" shows how English and American "sensibilities" did diverge quite a bit from time to time. Though I dig The Jam and have given them a thorough listen over the years, I also understand how they don't fully "translate" -- even as The Clash became more popular in the USA.  So far as I know, none of The Jam's singles were released in North America -- except for the Canadian market, which took in "Town Called Malice," a #1 hit in the UK. Album releases by The Jam also saw widely divergent receptions: All Mod Cons, for instance, peaked at #6 in the UK and at #204 in the USA. 
Paloma Romero/Palmolive on the far right. 
Finally for Egan's The Clash, the Spanish angle. "Joe Strummer had such an affinity with Spain that there is now a square named after him in Granada . . . The affinity was partly the consequence of his relationship in the mid-Seventies with future member of feminist punk band The Slits, Paloma Romero [aka Palmolive]" (page 116).

So, the risible moral of the ultimate Spanish story is: Be au fait and become a square. Ba da boom. 

Today's Rune: Fertility. 


Charles Gramlich said...

I don't guess I've ever heard anything by the Jam.

Anonymous said...

Consider this from Strummer on the Clash's "Hammersmith Palais" song, specifically talking (I think) about The Jam:

"The new groups are not concerned
With what there is to be learned
They got Burton suits, ha you think it's funny
Turning rebellion into money"

Apparently he didn't think much of them.