THIS IS OUR MUSIC: The Clash – “Spanish Bombs” – live Capitol Theatre – Passaic, NJ, 3/8/1980

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THIS IS OUR MUSIC: The Clash – “Spanish Bombs” – live Capitol Theatre – Passaic, NJ, 3/8/1980.

A good number of Strummer’s songs insist upon a deeper listen and oftentimes require a trip to the library. For example, “Spanish Bombs”. The singer penned the track after hearing about terrorist attacks aimed at Spain’s more touristy hotels, which reminded him of the IRA bombings in the UK. Just like a sly historian, Strummer weaved in references to the Spanish Civil War in the ’30s (“Or can I hear the echos from the days of ’39”) and poet and anti-fascist martyr Federico Garcia Lorca (“Federico Lorca is dead and gone”). He also condemns his fellow British countrymen for flying into the beautiful country, unaware of the domestic strife boiling around them. It’s all heavy stuff, but it doesn’t feel heavy, thanks to Mick Jones’ driving arrangements that take us from smoke-filled skies to sunny dances by the shore. One of many juxtapositions that would make up The Clash’s trademark sound.

The Only Lyric That Matters: “Back home the buses went up in flashes/ The Irish tomb was drenched in blood/ Spanish bombs shatter the hotels/ My senorita’s rose was nipped in the bud”

.CoS

THIS IS OUR MUSIC: Joy Division – “Day Of The Lords”

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THIS IS OUR MUSIC: Joy Division – “Day Of The Lords”.

“This is the room, the start of it all…”

“We’d only ever played these songs live before, never demoed them. I think the only one’s we’d demoed were “She’s Lost Control” and “Insight”. “Day of the Lords” is a slow song, but it’s a great song. The guitar’s loud and swept along by the bass. Martin overdubbed the keyboards. At the time we were all like, “What? keyboards? If we want fucking keyboards we’ll get a fucking keyboard player”. So he overdubbed them when we weren’t there. We didn’t even hear it until he’d done the mix. He played us the mix and me and Barney were pulling faces behind his back because he was putting keyboards on things. He was right, though, Martin. The keyboards sweeten it and make it better. Bleeding keyboards, soon to be bane of my life. Great snare sound.”
Peter Hook in “Unknown Pleasures – Inside Joy Division”.

THIS IS OUR MUSIC: The Clash- “Ivan Meets G.I. Joe”

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THIS IS OUR MUSIC: The Clash- “Ivan Meets G.I. Joe”.

Topper Headon is a key part of The Clash’s history. His drumming skills were never just relegated to the basic one-two sloppy punk drumbeats that flooded the genre earlier on. With “Ivan Meets G.I. Joe”, Headon not only rolls all over the kit to lay down a fantastic disco beat, but offers a surprising, rare lead vocal performance.

Surrounded by swirling keyboards, Headon tells a story of Ivan and G.I. Joe meeting at Studio 54 for a dance-off of sorts. The dancers pull out all the tricks, but the crowd gets bored and goes over to watch China instead. Admittedly, the asinine Cold War allegory isn’t the strongest lyrically (more of a side-splitting farce, if anything), but musically, it’s another jam off Sandinista! that a.) gets us through some of the album’s more obscure minutes and b.) still could slaughter a number of new wave/post-punk gems on the dance floor. It’s Headon’s little moment that could — and did.

The Only Lyric That Matters: “He wiped the Earth clean as a plate/ What does it take to make a Ruskie break?/ But the crowd are bored and off they go/ Over the road to watch China blow!”

.CoS

THIS IS OUR MUSIC: The Clash – “Julie’s Been Working For The Drug Squad” – Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ, 3/8/1980

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THIS IS OUR MUSIC: The Clash – “Julie’s Been Working For The Drug Squad” – Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ, 3/8/1980.

Honky-tonk piano is not something you expect to hear from a frantic punk band like The Clash, especially on an album that includes “English Civil War”, but the playful “Julie’s Been Working for the Drug Squad” defies the band’s conventions.

Blue Öyster Cult keyboardist and guitarist Allen Lanier sadly went uncredited for his piano work here, but it’s worth noting how on point he is alongside bassist Paul Simonon — something you just wouldn’t find in the punk scene at the time.
It could be an Elvis Costello B-side from My Aim Is True; that’s how unlikely it sounds from the group. 

Based on “Operation Julie”, a drug sting in England to shut down major LSD pushers, The Clash thought the image of undercover cops running around high on LSD during this infiltration was hilarious, and, given the piano and bouncing bass, the song’s just waiting for an unfinished Benny Hill short.

The Only Lyric That Matters: “And it’s 10 years for you/ 19 for you/ And you can get out in 25/ That is if you’re still alive”

.CoS