Tag Archives: The Clash

Throwback Thursday – 1982

As a songwriter, Gloria Jones charted with Gladys Knight & the Pips’ “If I Were Your Woman,” the Four Tops’ “Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life),” and Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross’ “My Mistake (Was to Love You).” As a producer, Gloria Jones hit the top ten on the disco chart with Gonzalez’s “Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet.” But as a lead singer, Jones failed to make the pop, r&b or dance charts.

In 1973, while on a trip to the United States, British DJ Richard Searling purchased a copy of a Gloria Jones single from 1965. The A-side was a song called “My Bad Boy’s Comin’ Home,” but it was the B-side that really got Searling’s attention.

Northern soul music (uptempo American soul music in a sixties Motown vein yet without commercial success) had a large cult following in the northern England at that time, and Searling played the Gloria Jones b-side during his sets.

Northern soul fan David Ball loved the song. When he and his musical partner, Mark Almond, who together comprised the duo Soft Cell, were looking for a song to cover, they went with the Jones song, thinking it would be interesting for a synth band to cover a soul tune. Their record label asked them to add guitar, bass and drums to the track, but the duo refused. Despite this, the label put out the singer. Almond told Rolling Stone magazine “We thought if we were really lucky, we’d scrape into the top 75 in Britain. We didn’t think anything would happen over here [in the US].”

Soft Cell’s recording of “Tainted Love” became a smash worldwide. In the US, it spent 43 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100, a record at that time. Said Gloria Jones of the Soft Cell recording “Their version was far better than mine.”

Winston + Soft Cell
This week, Tunes du Jour celebrates Throwback Thursday with twenty great tunes from 1982, kicking off with Soft Cell’s version of “Tainted Love,” but first, check out Gloria Jones’ original:



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Throwback Thursday – 1979

Blondie + Ringo
Blondie’s hit single “Heart of Glass” was written by band members Debbie Harry and Chris Stein and had the working title of “The Disco Song.” Drummer Clem Burke said his part was inspired by the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.”

Said Harry “When we did ‘Heart of Glass’ it wasn’t too cool in our social set to play disco. But we did it because we wanted to be uncool,” with the band’s keyboardist Jimmy Destri adding “We used to do ‘Heart of Glass’ to upset people.”

The song was included on Blondie’s Parallel Lines LP “as a novelty item to put more diversity into the album,” per Stein. The novelty song became the group’s first charted single and first #1, in 1979. Its success prompted John Lennon to send Ringo Starr a postcard advising to write songs like “Heart of Glass.”

Today’s Throwback Thursday playlist spotlights twenty of the best tracks from 1979, kicking off with Blondie’s upsetting disco novelty.


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It’s David Bowie’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Our weekly dance playlist kicks off with a track that was inspired by a song from the 1952 film Hans Christian Andersen. In the movie, Danny Kaye performs the Frank Loesser’s “Inchworm.” While schoolchildren sing “Two and two are four / Four and four are eight” etc., Kaye sings to the titular worm “You and your arithmetic/ You’ll probably go far,” and asking “Could it be you’d stop and see
how beautiful they are?” Singer-songwriter David Bowie told Performing Songwriter magazine “You wouldn’t believe the amount of my songs that have sort of spun off that one song. Not that you’d really recognize it. Something like ‘Ashes to Ashes’ wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t have been for ‘Inchworm.’ There’s a child’s nursery rhyme element in it, and there’s something so sad and mournful and poignant about it. It kept bringing me back to the feelings of those pure thoughts of sadness that you have as a child, and how they’re so identifiable even when you’re an adult. There’s a connection that can be made between being a somewhat lost five-year old and feeling a little abandoned and having the same feeling when you’re in your twenties. And it was that song that did that for me.”

Today is David Bowie’s 69th birthday. Put on your red shoes and dance the blues with this playlist of club tunes.


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It’s Joe Strummer’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Nineteen seventy-nine saw the release of The Ethel Merman Disco Album. That same year saw western music banned in Iran. If you heard that album you’d hail that decision. Six-and-a-half minutes of “Everything’s Coming up Roses” set to a dance beat was deemed too decadent and an insult to decent citizens. By order of the Prophet, they banned that boogie sound, as it degenerated the faithful.

Ethel Merman discoIt’s a it’s a it’s a it’s a sin!

While waiting for his bandmates to come to the studio to work on the album with the working title Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg, The Clash’s Topper Headon recorded a song he wrote. He played drums, piano and bass on the track. Per the group’s former associate and sometime manager Kosmo Vinyl, Headon accompanied his music with “very, very pornographic lyrics” about his girlfriend. The Prophet would not be happy.

Raga is a style of Indian classical music. Its performed pieces typically last for a half hour or longer. After a few days of hearing each song being worked on for the The Clash’s album lasting a minimum of six minutes, band manager Bernard Rhodes asked “Does everything have to be as long as a raga?” The question inspired the band’s Joe Strummer to write the lyric “The king told the boogie men ‘You have to let that raga drop.’” (NOTE: Joe Strummer did not compose the KC & the Sunshine Band hit “I’m Your Boogie Man.” Or did he???)

With that line as his starting point, Strummer replaced the original “pornographic” lyrics Headon wrote for his tune with ones inspired by Iran’s ban of disco music. In the song, once the Shareef is out of sight, the populace ignore the ban. Even the fighter pilots the Shareef brings in to drop bombs on the partying civilians turn up the music on their radios once he’s been chauffeured away. Western dance music? The Shareef don’t like it!

By the late 1990s the laws against western music had been relaxed in Iran, only to be reinstituted in 2005 by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ringo + The Clash
Though Ahmadinejad thinks it’s not kosher to boogie, we at Tunes du Jour think it’s treif to let Friday pass by without dancing. Our weekly dance playlist kicks off with The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah,” with lyrics by Joe Strummer, who was born on this day in 1952. By the way, the album from which the song is taken, released under the name Combat Rock, contains only one song longer than five minutes, the five-and-a-half minute long “Straight to Hell.” The king won.


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The Supreme Court Ruled And I Need To Dance!

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– Justice Anthony Kennedy

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. We kick off today’s party with birthday boy Mick Jones of The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite, who turns 60.


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Eric Clapton: England Is For White People

“Do we have any foreigners in the audience tonight? If so, please put up your hands. Wogs I mean, I’m looking at you. Where are you? I’m sorry but some fucking wog…Arab grabbed my wife’s bum, you know? Surely got to be said, yeah this is what all the fucking foreigners and wogs over here are like, just disgusting, that’s just the truth, yeah. So where are you? Well wherever you all are, I think you should all just leave. Not just leave the hall, leave our country. You fucking (indecipherable). I don’t want you here, in the room or in my country. Listen to me, man! I think we should vote for Enoch Powell. Enoch’s our man. I think Enoch’s right, I think we should send them all back. Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out. Get the wogs out. Get the coons out. Keep Britain white. I used to be into dope, now I’m into racism. It’s much heavier, man. Fucking wogs, man. Fucking Saudis taking over London. Bastard wogs. Britain is becoming overcrowded and Enoch will stop it and send them all back. The black wogs and coons and Arabs and fucking Jamaicans and fucking (indecipherable) don’t belong here, we don’t want them here. This is England, this is a white country, we don’t want any black wogs and coons living here. We need to make clear to them they are not welcome. England is for white people, man. We are a white country. I don’t want fucking wogs living next to me with their standards. This is Great Britain, a white country, what is happening to us, for fuck’s sake? We need to vote for Enoch Powell, he’s a great man, speaking truth. Vote for Enoch, he’s our man, he’s on our side, he’ll look after us. I want all of you here to vote for Enoch, support him, he’s on our side. Enoch for Prime Minister! Throw the wogs out! Keep Britain white!”
– Eric Clapton, to his audience during an August 1976 concert in Birmingham, UK. (Per Wikipedia, “in British English, wog is an offensive racial slur usually applied to Middle Eastern and South Asian peoples.”)

Clapton’s rant, coupled with the rise of fascist and neo-Nazi rhetoric in England, led to the formation of Rock Against Racism, a UK campaign in which recording artists including The Clash, Elvis Costello, The Buzzcocks, Steel Pulse, Aswad and Generation X performed concerts with an anti-racism theme.

In an interview some years later, Clapton claims his remarks weren’t aimed at any one particular minority. True. They were aimed at “wogs” and “coons” and Arabs and Jamaicans, so several minorities. You dug yourself out of that one! “It was kind of a feeling of loss of identity, being English and losing my Englishness,” said the blues guitarist whose first solo top ten hit was a cover of a reggae song written by Bob Marley.

In his 2007 autobiography, cleverly entitled Clapton: The Autobiography, in a paragraph that begins with the sentence “I had never really understood, or been directly affected by, racial conflict,” Clapton says of the 1976 outburst “Since then I have learned to keep my opinions to myself.” Okay, that’s one lesson. I think there may be more if one looks hard enough.

Today Eric Clapton turns 70 years old. To celebrate, here are twenty songs about the idiocy of racism.

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Punks And Lesbians

In the early days of London’s punk rock movement, around 1976, there were no punk clubs per se, so the punks needed somewhere to congregate where they can be who they are and dress how they dress without fear of being hassled. They found such a place at Club Louise, a lesbian bar that also welcomed gay men and punks, just off Oxford Street in London’s Soho district. Billy Idol hung out there every night. Other regulars included Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Paul Cook, Siouxsie Sioux, Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood, members of The Clash and members of The Slits. Writes Billy Idol in his recently-released autobiography Dancing With Myself, “[Louise’s] was a much-needed haven. Back then, the way we dressed would have started a riot if we had set foot in any normal club or pub.”

Idol discusses Louise’s as ground zero for the punks’ plans. “We all congregated there, drinking and socializing, plotting our rebellion. It was our midnight meeting place, our sanctuary. We all walked the same path at that time. Many of the classic-rock bands talked about musicianship but had little to offer us, the disenfranchised and disenchanted… As the gay ladies danced and loved one another, we devised our plans and consolidated a movement. By being like-minded, we ruled the night. We would rock London to its core. The lesbian bar was our spiritual ‘upper room,’ and we, the new aristocracy of the poor, knighted with fire, sallied forth and followed Johnny Rotten into the unknown!”

New York City’s punk scene was similar. Club 82, a drag queen/transsexual bar, was one of the few public places where punks could perform in the early to mid-1970s. The club always welcomed the outcasts, so the punks were part of the family. Other gay bars opened their doors to punks as well. These not only were places that accepted those who are “different;” gay bars also were places where people could experiment with their appearance.

Idol explains the bond between the punk rockers and the LGBT populations by quoting a figure from American history. “Benjamin Franklin once offered advice to his fellow revolutionaries: ‘We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.’ We were a small group of people bored with the repeated clichés of modern life and its stagnant, putrid waters. That is what brought us — and ultimately bonded us — together.”

Ringo + Billy Idol
Today Billy Idol turns 59 years old. Here are twenty career highlights.

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Last Friday I received word that a friend of mine died. Brain cancer. He was 37 years old.

The following day I got the call that my uncle passed away. My mother and her sister flew in for their brother’s funeral. He was married to the same woman for more than 50 years, since she was 19.

Ringo + Clash 2014-08-22 12.32
I’m glad this week is over. It’s Friday, and I really need to dance. We’ll start our weekly dance playlist with The Clash. The late Joe Strummer’s birthday was yesterday. We’ll play a track by the late Isaac Hayes, whose birthday was Wednesday. Belinda Carlisle of The Go-Go’s and Mika had birthdays this past week, while Tori Amos turns 51 today. Here’s to life and dancing while one still can.

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Gwen Stefani, the lead singer and lyricist of the band No Doubt, wanted to do a dance-oriented solo album, but when the band finished its Rock Steady tour in November 2002, all she wanted to do was sleep. “I wanted to take a break and was really burned out, but the record company were ready to go.” Her label, Interscope, wanted her to work on her solo album with singer-songwriter Linda Perry, who was available for only five days.

Without the time to recharge, Stefani’s anxieties about doing the record rose to the surface and she spent a lot of time crying in bed. She’d been with the guys in No Doubt for seventeen years at that point; could she do a record without them?

On their second day in the studio together, Perry presented Stefani with the music of a song she stayed up the previous night to write. Stefani was to come up with lyrics, and she took the speed with which Perry came up with the song as a dare, as if to ask her “What are you waiting for?”

That was the inspiration Stefani needed. She wrote the lyrics to “What You Waiting For?,” addressing her fears about doing the record, her lack of inspiration, and the pressure the felt her label was putting on her. The song opens with Stefani referencing her bandmates and their years together – “What an amazing time / What a family/ How did the years go by?/ Now it’s only me.” Then the repeated background vocals of “tick tock” suggest the clock is ticking and she needs to get to work on this solo venture. Her nervous side sings “I’m worried if I go it alone,” to which her confident persona responds “You never know, it could be great” and “Take a chance, you might grow.”

“What You Waiting For?” was the first single released from Stefani’s first solo venture, Love, Angel, Music, Baby. The album sold seven million copies worldwide and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Hit singles from the album were “Hollaback Girl,” “Rich Girl,” “Cool” and “Luxurious.”

Of the experience making the record, Stefani said “I think it’s very important to put yourself in a situation that’s uncomfortable to be able to grow.”

Is there something you wish to do but have not yet started to tackle? What you waiting for?
doggies + Gwen 2014-07-18 11.34

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. We kick off this week’s party with Gwen Stefani’s “What You Waiting For?”

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“I Have Heard The Future Of Rock And Roll, And It Is The Clash.”

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“I have heard the future of rock and roll, and it is The Clash.” I said that to my friend Laura. The year was 1986. The Clash had already broken up. Sometimes I’m fashionably late to the party.

The Clash released their self-titled debut album in 1977. At that time I was very much a Top 40/Disco kid, listening to KC & the Sunshine Band, The Bee Gees, Eagles, Leo Sayer, ABBA, Stevie Wonder, Barry Manilow and Fleetwood Mac, etc. I’d read about punk rockers in Rolling Stone and Billboard, with their spitting and complaining. No thank you!

I heard a few Clash songs in the few years that followed – their two US top 40 singles “Train in Vain” and “Rock the Casbah,” plus “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” I liked all of those, but assumed they were the exception. They didn’t sound like the way I read punk described.

In 1986 I was working at CBS Records. One of the perks was employees could order five records or tapes each month from the CBS Records catalogue. I got the entire Springsteen back catalogue and some Dylan releases. Eventually I got around to ordering The Clash’s catalogue. I read about them so often and the records were free, so why not?

Wow! London Calling was the most impressive and the one that led to my rave review to Laura. It was not at all what I expected. It was very melodic and very accessible, with a diverse range of styles. The other albums all had their moments, enough such moments that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of their albums.

Let me amend that – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of their albums except Cut the Crap, released after Mick Jones left the band.

While I’m often way ahead of the general population on songs and artists that eventually gather wide acclaim, sometime I’m slow. The Clash was one of those times. And, in retrospect, I suppose I was a tad hyperbolic when I declared Men At Work to be the new Beatles.

Today Mick Jones of The Clash (and later Big Audio Dynamite) turns 59. Here are ten gems.

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