The Clash – The Clash

The Clash’s 1977 debut has always been a source of confusion given the presence of conflicting UK and US versions. This reissue focuses on the US edition, with the logo on the top right-hand side of the sleeve as opposed to the UK copy, which places it on the bottom right. As some may remember, the US version came out nearly two years after the British edition. Industry observers believed the Clash too severe for American audiences, a misbegotten opinion that led to the UK LP becoming the highest-selling import record in US history.

Not happy with only delaying the American release, Epic Records also decided to alter the track listing. “Deny,” “Cheat,” “Protex Blue,” “48 Hours,” and the original version of “White Riot” were removed in favor of “Clash City Rockers” (a 1978 A-side), “Complete Control” (a 1977 single), a re-recorded “White Riot,” “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais” (another 1978 UK single), “I Fought the Law” (a 1979 UK EP cut), and “Jail Guitar Doors” (a ’78 UK B-side). The replacements gave the US version an intentional “best-of Clash” feel.

Close listening reveals that the LP’s mastering has stood the test of time. There’s energy, rage, and power by the bundle, plus an under-produced claustrophobia, especially on the guitars, which sound like they want to burst out into extended upper-midrange splendour but never do, thus enhancing the overall tension. This pressing is also nicely executed, with a quiet background that yields a great sense of clarity—well, as much clarity as is possible with a bunch of blokes exploding all over the soundstage. A bonus 7” with “Groovy Times” and “Gates of the West” is included with the package. Essential. —Paul Rigby

Music On Vinyl, 180g LP