The Clash - Super Black Market Clash (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Clash

Super Black Market Clash (1993)


1993’s Super Black Market Clash, while noble in ambition, wound up being a scrambled release. Like its predecessor, Black Market Clash, the expanded/changed version of Super attempted to collect rarer Clash tunes into a single collection.

However, in order to scoop up most, but not all, of the rare songs, Super had to chop out a number of songs, including “Cheat,” “Capital Radio,” and “Bankrobber/Robber Dub.” The result is an album that has a lot of interesting tracks, but little cohesion.

Chief issue among this is the removal of the a-side track from both the “Armagideon Time” and “Bankrobber” single. So, whereas the older release had two disco mixes, expanding the songs into far out experimental pieces that paid tribute to the Jamaican 12-inch single, Super left just the dub versions, which, without their unaltered counterpart, felt like orphans in the collection.

Super did do a fairly through job of collecting the post London Calling b-sides, such as “Mustapha Dance,” “The Magnificent Dance,” and “Long Time Jerk.” Each of these tracks show how the Clash, who got into punk when punk was “new” avoided hanging onto old styles and wanted to keep pushing their art to new and greater boundaries. A lot of bands found three chords and stopped. The Clash kept on driving, incorporating funk, disco, and who-knows-what into their sound. If anything, these massive 12-inch versions show that the Clash were both true artists as well as interested in being not only contemporary, but avant-garde.

As a reference piece, this works well. But the former two songs, and all the larger tunes on the newer comp, were released on 12-inch singles, backing the more “normal” a-side. So, while those tracks are all thrilling pieces of work, showing how far the Clash were willing to stretch themselves and the concept of punk, when you stack them all on top of each other, it becomes too much to digest.

“Magnificent Dance,” a wigged out version of “Magnificent Seven,” was meant to be a stand alone piece, enjoyed as its own singular work. “Magnificent Dance,” “Radio Clash,” and even the extended dub version of “Armagideon Time” are each single works unto themselves. Compiling them as an album takes the focus away from each of them individually and, to some degree, robs them of their power.

Further, where as the original Black Market Clash had two distinct sides, one showing the Clash’s past and one showing the band’s future, Super just seems to be a pile of tracks in roughly chorological order. There seems to be no real focus.

That would be fine if the release was issued as a sort of archival collection- but were that the case, then why snip out the great tracks on the original issue. Honestly, the answer is likely due to the running time of a CD. A better move would have been to replicate the original release on one CD and include all the extra material on a second CD, thereby making Super really live up to its name.

But, of course, this probably wasn’t done as two CDs would not make financial sense. Ironic that a compilation that salutes how the Clash utilized one format (the 12-inch single) to its absolute greatest potential, is hampered and muddled by the format of that very compilation.