The Clash - Cut the Crap (Cover Artwork)

The Clash

The Clash: Cut the CrapCut the Crap (1985)
The Clash

Reviewer Rating: 2
User Rating:

Contributed by: SumWonSumWon
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C'mon everyone, it isn't that bad‚?¶right?

[Room for an e-tumbleweed to blow across the screen]

Okay, it's bad. So bad in fact, that Joe Strummer himself began referring to this lineup as the Clash II after the album's release in hope of preserving the earlier lineups' legacies. So bad, even, that the album's lone great song, "This Is England," is often neglected a spot on Clash compilations for fear of simply drawing attention to this stinker. I am about as big a Clash/Strummer fan as they come, and it's so bad that even I have a hard time acknowledging this thing.

But before I get too far into the review, I want to clarify exactly why I am writing this. Two weeks ago it was brought up that Cut the Crap is the only proper Clash album yet to be reviewed here. I stated that I'd give someone else two weeks to write a review, and then I would carry the burden myself (surprise, surprise -- here I am two weeks later reviewing the album). I say 'burden' not because of the work involved -- if you would call it work -- but because Strummer has, through his music, virtually become a father-figure for me over the years, and nobody wants to focus on the one failure of someone they greatly admire. And I, a steadfast Sandinista! and even Walker admirer, do believe this to be the only weak project Strummer has ever headed (though there is the arguement that manager Bernie Rhodes was the "mastermind" here). I am writing this not to barrage Strummer for his great professional mishap, but because I believe that for better or worse, it is a piece of punk rock history that deserves to be recognized here simply because the name ‚??The Clash' is on it. I feel that addressing this album, despite its, well, crap, is more respectful than ignoring it -- the latter being the typical reaction.

So what went oh-so-wrong here? Topper Headon (drums) was asked to leave the group following Combat Rock after prolonged substance abuse problems. Next, Mick Jones (lead guitar/vocals) was asked to do the same following increasingly prevalent creative dissonance between himself and Strummer. With half of the Clash's creative force departed, Strummer didn't have the resources at the time to maintain the near-divine standards the Clash had, inadvertently or not, bestowed upon themselves. Much like the Beatles, the Clash was comprised of very talented individuals who formed a vastly superior whole. With the replacement of Jones and Headon, and the unfortunate gain of `80s overindulgence, Strummer finally succumbed to mediocrity with 1985's Cut the Crap.

The mid-`80s were a time when rock bands tended to trade in their lead guitars for over-the-top synthesizers, their rough and ragged rhythms for over-the-top synthesizers, and their better judgment for, you guessed it, over-the-top synthesizers. The Clash was no exception to this fad. A good number of songs here are bogged down by unnecessary synthesizer effects and superfluous overdubs, but it isn't just the `80s flair that drags this album down, it's everything -- songwriting, production, performance, you name it. The vocals are practically inaudible in some places, and though this does drown out the often poor lyrics, it's just plain annoying. The performance, while still decent, is deprived by Strummer standards, as it sounds almost as if he is contemplating the material's quality while the tape is rolling. Besides "This Is England," a slow and ambient tune accurately dubbed "the last great Clash song," there aren't any songs on here worth the time it takes to listen. A few tunes have decent verses only to fall flat during the chorus and vice versa. "This Is England" is the only song that gets both right. Other songs would have been strong, namely "Dictator" and "North and South," but are beaten into the ground with aforementioned `80s flair until they're just two more reasons to save your money.

If you want to hear more quality Strummer, there is plenty of material out there. Try any of the Mescaleros albums, his spaghetti western soundtrack to Walker, or his pre-Clash pub-rock band the 101ers' surprisingly solid, recently released Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited. Pick up Cut the Crap if you plan on creating some sort of elaborate and/or creepy Joe Strummer shrine containing all of his albums, or because you want to wave it in your friends' faces to prove you're a bigger Clash fan than they. But don't buy this album because you plan on listening to it -- you won't. Another option is, of course, to simply give London Calling a spin, remember why the Clash is The Only Band That Matters, and be thankful for Joe Strummer, mishaps and all.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (August 30, 2007)

yes it's bad, but there are few gold songs here, mainly "three card trick". that song is wonderful. it is one of my favorite Clash songs, up there with "complete control".

Anonymous (August 27, 2007)

greatest review ever? get some perspective! go check out the pitchfork review for the new Jet album.
[this comment does not endorse pitchfork outside of said review]

Anonymous (August 27, 2007)

this is the greatest album review i have ever read. holy shit. well done.

lushj (August 27, 2007)

The 101ers stuff is SO good!

ericb (August 26, 2007)

you should just bootleg earthquake weather. you dont need to track it down on amazon or ebay and pay 100 dollars for a cd. its really amazing and it deserves to be listened to even if its impossible to buy.

Ghost_of_D_Boon (August 26, 2007)

Score is for the record. I bought it when it came out (had to - hardcore Clash fan), liked it for what it was, hated the mix. Listening to it again a few years later, it almost pre-dates some of the industrial stuff that came out in the late 80's and early 90's. I still think the mix sucks, but that's because Bernie Rhodes reportedly handed Epic/CBS (they weren't owned by Sony yet) the rough mixes rather than a clearer mix that Strummer signed off on.

SumWon (August 26, 2007)

What's next on your review list? 101'ers? Big Audio Dynamite?

I'd like to review Earthquake Weather, the "lost," Joe Strummer album, which is also my favorite of his post-Clash career. Unfortunately it's so hard to find in stores or online (for a decent price) that there isnt really a point. I'll probably review Elgin eventually --sooner than later if there is any demand.

Thanks for the generally positive feedback, everyone.

Anonymous (August 26, 2007)

I went into this album with a very open mind when my cousin first got it for me one Christmas ten years ago. I have to say I really enjoyed it. It was just different and in my personal opinion it blew "Combat Rock" out of the water. I thought that album was really boring to listen to. You just have to accept the album for what it is, but like you can clearly see, not everyone is going personally get into this album. It's just a hit or miss depending on who you ask.

kenjamin (August 26, 2007)

I definitely hang with Chinatown.

Anonymous (August 25, 2007)

The first song on this made me laugh out loud because it sounded so fucking stupid. The rest is just boring.

Anonymous (August 25, 2007)

What's Cut The Crap Revisited? Is it online anywhere?

Cos (August 25, 2007)

A good number of songs here are bogged down by unnecessary synthesizer effects and superfluous overdubs...

Can I suggest "Cut the Crap Naked"?

Woland (August 24, 2007)

i agree with chinatown.

music sucks. i have no idea why people enjoy listening to sounds because, really, they're just air particles vibrating.

who would honestly think that was cool?

Anonymous (August 24, 2007)

this album isnt nearly as bad as youre making it out to be. this is england, movers and shakers, three card trick are all great songs and fit perfectly with sandista/combat rock era clash.

this album is proof that when everyone says an album is good, people fawn over it regardless of content (hello bastards) and vice versa (new wave, cut the crap).

while the band's weakest for sure, definitely not awful.

Anonymous (August 24, 2007)

Also, I'm sad to say that I'd give Jawbreaker's Unfun a 7, and Fugazi's Steady Diet no more than a 6.


Anonymous (August 24, 2007)

This album is actually the best of their catalog, as it's not pretending to be a punk rock album. Their earlier records sucked because the band, despite being nothing more than a generic pop outfit, pranced around pretending they had something to say. Joe Strummer was always a sham, and his solo stuff sucked too.

The synths don't sound that bad; they give these tunes a nice little dancehall flair.


Anonymous (August 24, 2007)

This review is what? 22 years too late. Thanks for keeping us updated.

-Strewtho- (August 24, 2007)

Very good review. Haven't heard this, Combat Rock was meh enough for me.

Anonymous (August 24, 2007)

north and south is good. this album couldve been so much better especially when you compare this to the Cut The Crap Revisited bootleg

rob_rob (August 24, 2007)

This a great review, awesome job.

GlassPipeMurder (August 24, 2007)

i mean "Movers and Shakers"...d'oh!

GlassPipeMurder (August 24, 2007)

i love Movers and Shakers

Anonymous (August 24, 2007)

It's an ok album. "Dirty Punk" is the best song on it, I think.

Anonymous (August 24, 2007)

Most of these songs were much better when performed live. I saw the Clash shortly before the record was released and I can definitely say that Rhodes' production is what killed it. There's a few bootlegs floating around from the same period. Track one down and I'm sure you'll agree with me.

theyounginfluential (August 24, 2007)

this album isnt as bad as everyone thinks it is, it has some cool tracks on it.

Anonymous (August 24, 2007)

the reviewer completely TRASHES this record, yet still gives it a 4/10?

that doesnt make any sense

aubin (August 24, 2007)

I'm glad to see a good, honest review of this album. I love the Clash too, but I can't claim much love for this record. That said, this completes our Clash profile (http://www.punknews.org/bands/theclash) which now has all the studio releases.


lushj (August 24, 2007)

As an older dude, I can unequivocally state that this record is crap and yes, they should've just cut it.

(Combat Rock is a MUCH better record than this)

Anonymous (August 24, 2007)

great record. if you dig the clash then i dont see why you wouldnt love this record. i guess its the kids who hate it but the older ones like it.

Anonymous (August 24, 2007)

Long time browser, first time poster. I dig "Cut The Crap". Its better than "Combat Rock" for sure. Its not nearly as awful as the reviewer makes it out to be.

tommytumult (August 24, 2007)

Good job reviewing this, I had hoped you'd go through with it. I personally cannot stand this album at all, score is for the review.

What's next on your review list? 101'ers? Big Audio Dynamite?

Anonymous (August 24, 2007)

Combat Rock was such a shitty album, i didn't even bother buying this one.

Anonymous (August 24, 2007)

score is for the e-tumbleweed comment and the nice review too. haven't heard this whole album, only "This is England" and looks like it will stay that way. Still the best band of all time.

Anonymous (August 24, 2007)

This record really isn't as bad as everyone makes it out to be.

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