Sunday, 9 April 2017

The Clash.

It's more or less 40 years since the first Clash album came out;

I say more or less because it was actually a couple of days ago.

At the time it didn't matter to me so much; I was a student living in Clapham in a room which cost £6 a week, which wasn't a lot even back then. The kindly landlord had employed a carpet fitter to take second hand carpets, cut them up and fitted the worn out parts at the edges so that the carpet seemed to be alright in the middle of the room.

London had an acute housing shortage at the time and my path to this decrepit room above an ancient sweet warehouse was via peoples sofas and a squat.

I'd gone to see my parents at Easter and when I came back to my room I threw open the door to find a nurse sleeping in my bed - the landlord had assumed I wasn't coming back and re let it even though I still had all my belongings in the room.

I spent the night sleeping in the corridor.

By an amazing piece of good luck I found a place in a students hall of residence a couple of uncomfortable days later. When I first went to university there were no places for me.

I ended up briefly sharing a room with someone who is now a famous journalist with the BBC, following an illustrious career as a foreign correspondent for a serious liberal newspaper.

He was a very self opinionated twit then and still is. He has made a good living repeating whatever the government of the day told him to say.

I remember him coming into the room holding a very early copy of The Clash's first album - he'd got an internship on 'The Economist' magazine while he was a student and, as the youngest person they knew, they had given him a copy of the album and asked him to review it.

This was a slight problem; he'd no idea what The Clash were about and he didn't own a record player (it was the 1970's - none of us had that kind of money).

He asked me to tell him all about it - I'd seen the band, heard a fair few of the songs. I was a punk, if a bit of a MOD.

I'm happy to say I told him where to go. It obviously didn't do his glittering career any harm - I guess he made it all up anyway.

That's what journalists usually do.

Later that month I was at the first Anti Nazi League Carnival at Victoria park - where The Clash played a storming set and were joined by Jimmy Pursey on stage for a while.

At Christmas I went to see them again at The Lyceum, an amazing night. Just took a train up, had a few drinks with a friend at a nearby pub and casually bought tickets on the door.

I've always regretted not going back the next night - I think it was only three pounds but back then £3 was still quite a lot of money for a student.

Between Easter and Christmas The Clash had developed enormously. The first album was a scream of rage - one that we all felt and I think I still do, really.

By Christmas they were moving on; to bigger venues and their music was getting more professional, more slik.

Robyn tells me off, she say I only like bands that no one else likes. As soon as they get famous I don't want to know.

She has a point; I think punk spoilt music for me. I got used to seeing bands in very small venues, close up.

By the time 1979 came around The Clash were away - playing big venues, better production and touring in America.

At that point I started to let them go - but in April 1978 and for a glorious few months, The Clash could do no wrong whether it was live on stage or on record.

My back is a problem again right now, I'm stuck in a chair in agony. So this morning I listened to the first album again - it still works......for me.

Still angry!

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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