The Clash - Super Black Market Clash (Cover Artwork)

The Clash

Super Black Market Clash (1993)


Everyone has a few bands that they will always like. You may neglect them for a short while, but once you listen to something by them-anything by them-they won't be leaving the player any time soon. For me, The Clash are one of those bands. They are, without a doubt, one of the most varying punk bands, and one of the first of such bands. Super Black Market Clash is a testament to that. This LP is an extended version of the 10" EP Black Market Clash, which came out in 1980 with the track list:
1. Capital Radio One
2. The Prisoner
3. Pressure Drop
4. Cheat
5. City Of The Dead
6. Time Is Tight
7. Robber Dub
8. Armagideon Time
9. Justice Tonight/Kick It Over
Super Black Market Clash has B-sides and rarities from throughout (and even before) The Clash's existence, in addition to most of Black Market Clash's original track list. As it says in the liner notes (which I constantly rip information from throughout this review), "Between March 1977 and June 1982, The Clash released over eighteen 7" singles, five albums (including a double and a triple), four 12" singles and two 7" EPs. In 1993 the vinyl record is moving from the endangered species onto the extinction list, leaving a lot of Clash recordings out of print. Super Black Market Clash ensures that most are available again."

"1977", the first track on Super Black Market Clash, was also one of the first The Clash ever wrote. It is a prototype of The Clash's most well-known sound; chainsaw guitars, catchy rhythms, and sharing of the vocal duties (though not as evenly in this song as in others). This is one of my favorite Clash songs. Electric Frankenstein did a great cover of this song, I suggest everyone go download it--asses.

"Listen" is an instrumental off of the "Capitol Radio" EP. I like instrumentals. I love Clash instrumentals… I love this Clash instrumental. The bass line is grooving, and the whole song just makes me want to get up and shake my booty like it's my duty. Ya heard?

Track 3, "Jail Guitar Doors", was originally a 101ers (Joe Strummer's band before joining The Clash) tune, though the lyrics have been rewritten for this version. The rewritten lyrics are quite good. Lyrics such as: "Let me tell you 'bout Wayne and his deals of cocaine // A little more every day // Holding for a friend till the band do well // Then the D.E.A. locked him away" and "And then there's Keith, waiting for trial // Twenty-five thousand bail // If he goes down you won't hear his sound // But his friends carry on anyway", sung by Jones, with Strummer and Jones harmonizing on the chorus; another Clash classic.

"City Of The Dead" is a good song. Want me to elaborate? Well, as Mic Jagger once said, "you can't always get what you want."

From the Marquee Sessions comes "The Prisoner", which is sung by Jones. "The prisoner lives in Camden town // selling revolution // the prisoner loads his tracking arm up // with self-delusion // your mother does the washing up // your old man digs the garden // you're only free to dodge the cops // an' bunk the train to stardom."

The next song, "Pressure Drop" is one of my favorite songs on the album. It was originally written by Toots & The Maytals, and was also covered by ska greats The Specials. This song is by far the best version, with the vocals being nothing short of beautiful. It makes you realize (if, by some odd chance, you haven't already) Barbara Streissand should go shove her duets up her diva ass.

Next we have "1-2 Crush On You", a very poppy love song sung by Jones. I have a feeling that this song could have topped the charts had it been released 25 years previously, and had the music been more toned down.

"Groovy Times" sure is a groovy song. I know, I know… I'm hilarious. Anyhow, the song reminds me a bit of Spanish Bombs; very soft musically while at heart very biting.
"The high street shops are boarded up an' the terrace it is fenced in.
See-through shields are walled across the way that you came in.
But there's no need to get excited as the lorries bring the bacon in
'cos the housewives are all singing groovy times are here again.

They discovered one black Saturday that mobs don't march they run.
So you can excuse the nervous triggerman just this once for jumping the gun.
As they were picking up the dead out of the broken glass…
yes it's number one, the radio said groovy times have come to pass!

Off of the The Cost Of Living EP comes "Gates Of The West"; a rather, catchy song sung by Jones. Not quite as soft as the Jones-sung "Somebody Got Murdered" or "Lost In The Supermarket", but certainly not much more aggressive. I really like the lyrics to this song, with lines like "I would love to be the lucky one on chill avenue // Who could keep your heart warm when ice has turned it blue // But with the beggin' sleeping losers as they turn in for the night // I'm looking back for home and I can see the lights" and "The immigrants an' remnants of all the glory years // Are clustered around the bar again for another round of beers".

"Capital Radio Two" is a special version of the prerequisite Clash song "Capital Radio", rerecorded because the Capital Radio EP where the song originally appeared became very hard to get ahold of at a cheap price. I'm sure you've all heard this great song before, so no need butchering a dead horse with a rusty machete. One note, this song is sans the radio samples that grace the first few minutes of the original version. This takes away some of the "coolness" factor from the song, but it's nice to be able to just put on the track and instantly rock out with your cock out.

"Time Is Tight", and so is this song… I REALLY AM FUNNY!. No… really… I am. This instrumental was originally written by Booker T & The MG's. It was recorded in the aforementioned "Marquee Sessions", which took place in between recording Give 'Em Enough Rope (which also produced "Pressure Drop", "The Prisoner", and "White Man In Hammersmith Palais"). The song was one commonly played during soundchecks at Clash shows, so they decided to record it. Good choice, because it is a really cool instrumental. This song also ushers a split in the album. Previously, all the songs have been straight up Clash rock 'n' roll songs, sans "Pressure Drop" and "Listen". From this point on, all the songs are dub reggae or proto-dance type stuff. If you are a smoker of the ganja, you'd probably want to start out the CD right here.

"Justice Tonight/Kick It Over" is what got me into dub reggae. I first heard this song (as far as I can remember), along with "Armagideon Time" and "Bankrobber Dub", on the original EP at my dad's record stand many years ago(which is where I got this CD, too). I heard The Clash before, but nothing like this-it definitely got me hooked. Quoted straight from the liner notes, "The Clash's first released dub recordings. These are the full length Guy Fawkes night versions of Willie Williams' "Armagideon Time" which was first played live on 'The Clash Take The Fifth Tour' of the USA in 1979." This song still remains one of my favorite dub reggae songs of all time, and it is my favorite track off this album. The bass line can't be beat, and all the added sound effects make it that much better than The Clash's cover of "Armagideon Time" itself.

"Robber Dub" is a 'Dread at The Controls' version of The Clash's excellent reggae song "Bankrobber". It was to be included on a 12" single titled "Bankrobber", but the label ended up refusing to release the single. It is a great song, but doesn't quite match "Justice Tonight/Kick It Over".

As the notes say, "this remix of 'The Call-Up' was credited to Pepe Unidos, an alias for Paul Simonon, Bernard Rhodes, and Joe Strummer." "The Cool Out" is the best instrumental on the album, holding that I consider the previous 2 songs not to be instrumentals. It is a space-out dance song complete with an ultra-funky bass line, perfectly complimenting drums, good guitar, and great extra effects.

"Stop The World" just kind of melts out of the speakers, a kind of effect akin to doom metal in a way. What can I say? I love this song; it is almost as eccentric as "Silicone On Saphire." "If I could ride a train around the city // That holds this as our fate // I'd hide from electro-circuit central // To the shock inducer gate // Not forgetting the by-pass // Across the Washington hooks // Through the phones and desks and screens // Of the Kremlin's crook of crooks."

Nearing the end of the album now (finally?), we head to "The Magnificent Dance", which is a remix, of course, of the great song "The Magnificent Seven" (which also shares its name with a great Western flick). This remix is also credited to Pepe Unidos. They definitely capitalized on the funky groove of the original, adding in some very cool drumming.

Again I turn to the liner notes for this song, "Radio Clash", because they can do a better job than me. "Radio Clash literally the second half of 'This is Radio Clash'. Always intended to be a single the recording was too long to fit on one side of a 7" single, so the master was split and it was released on both sides." Another song I'm sure you are familiar with, this doesn't stray too much from the 'first half', being "This is Radio Clash"; a cool song indeed. And when I say indeed, I mean indeed.

"First Night Back In London" is a song about … a first night back in London, as the lyrics show: "To see my lovely town // That always brings you down // Where every drifter drifts // For many miles around // We take a casual drive // For two miles up the road // The cops pull us over // And search right through our clothes." This song was recorded in a mobile studio, fancy that.

"Long Time Jerk" has some sort of country influence in it, mixed with odd dance music. It was recorded in the same mobile studio as the previous song.

"Cool Confusion" is a really cool reggae/something song. It was going to be on Combat Rock, but that never happened. I'm lazy, so here are some lyrics: "Now we must get in touch // If the night is to burn // Someone out there in luck // Lend me your star for a turn" and "It's immediately obvious // Anybody star-gilt // would have left this club // Way before it was built // This strikes you so late // As the guy with the broom // Sweeps you and the bottles // Right out of the room"

Finally, we come to "Mustapha Dance," a catchy remix of "Rock The Casbah". Well, I don't really know what else to say. I mean, everyone's heard "Rock The Casbah." This version has only a select few of the lyrics, replaced with extra drumming and some minor effects. The drumming breakdown a little over three minutes into the song is really cool.

Well, there we go. This is easily one of the best albums I own. The original Black Market Clash EP was great, but this is so much better. Sure it would be better if it had "Armagideon Time" and "Cheat" on it like the original, but at least it has a better version of the former. Anyhow, it more than makes up for the two missing tracks from the original with fourteen tracks which aren't readily available anywhere else. This album does justice to the variety of The Clash's amazing career, from the chainsaw rock'n'roll of "1977", to the psychedelic dub sounds of "Justice Tonight/Kick It Over", all the way to the sonic dance of "The Cool Out." Oh, and the album art is rock to the max. Any questions? Please direct them to Oprah. Thank you.

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