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Saturday, 18 March 2017

40 Years of Punk & New Wave 1977: White Riot - The Clash

White Riot / 1977
CBS
Produced by Micky Foote
Released 18th March 1978
UK Chart #38

A-Side


    Joe Strummer - lead vocal, rhythm guitar
    Mick Jones - lead guitar, backing vocal
    Paul Simonon - bass guitar, backing vocal
    Terry Chimes - drums

 White Riot
Strummer/Jones
White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own
White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own

Black people gotta lot a problems
But they don't mind throwing a brick
White people go to school
Where they teach you how to be thick

An' everybody's doing
Just what they're told to
An' nobody wants
To go to jail!

White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own
White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own

All the power's in the hands
Of people rich enough to buy it
While we walk the street
Too chicken to even try it

Everybody's doing
Just what they're told to
Nobody wants
To go to jail!

White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own
White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own

Are you taking over
or are you taking orders?
Are you going backwards
Or are you going forwards?

B-Side


     Joe Strummer - lead vocal, backing vocal, lead guitar
    Mick Jones - backing vocal, lead guitars
    Paul Simonon - bass guitar, backing vocal
    Terry Chimes - drums

  1977
Strummer/Jones
in 1977 i hope i go to heaven
cos i been too long on the dole
and i can't work at all

danger stranger
you better paint your face
no elvis, beatles, or the rolling stones
in 1977

in 1977
knives in west 11
lent so lucky to be rich
sten guns in knightsbridge

danger stranger
you better paint your face
no elvis, beatles or the rolling stones
in 1977

in 1977
you're on the never never
you think it can't go on forever
but the papers say it's better
i don't care 'cos i'm not all there
no elvis, beatles or the rolling stones

in 1977
sod the jubilee
in 1978
in 1979
stayed in bed
in 1980
in 1981
the toilet don't work
in 1982
in 1983
here come the police
in 1984 



***********************
(The Clash 1977 - Gettys Images)

"'White Riot' isn't a Poxy Single Of The Week, it's the first meaningful event all year.
The Clash aren't just a band, and this is more than just a single."
- Tom Robinson

I have very fond memories of my journey to school especially on Thursdays when the new music papers came out. On the 19th March in the NME Tom Robinson was reviewing the singles and this is what he had to say about White Riot:

Tom Robinson's review of White Riot
19th March 1977 NME


"Last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words wait for another voice. Look out, listen, can you hear it?

It's pointless to categorise this with other records: 'White Riot' isn't a Poxy Single Of The Week, it's the first meaningful event all year. Try and discount it. Go on, say they sold out to the enemy at CBS, say it's another idle London fad irrelevant to the lives of working people, say it's all clever hype that's conned everyone, say it's just the '60s rehashed an' you can't make out the words.

Say what you like, you still can't discount it cos The Clash aren't just a band, and this is more than just a single. There's a book written by a trad fan in 1963 saying how shoddy The Beatles were, how ripped off from R&B, how they could never last in the world of Tin Pan Alley. They didn't last in it, they took it to pieces.

Whatever your standpoint, everyone basically agrees there are two sides. You know it's coming, we know it's coming and they know it's coming. The Clash are the writing on their wall. The recorded version of 'White Riot' is one minute and 58 seconds of buzzsaw guitars, Simonon's pumping, offbeat bass, an insolent, slurred vocal and sheer musical aggro. It won't pick up much airplay cos you can't make out the words - it'd pick up much less if you could: "Black man gotta lotta problems but they don't mind throwin' a brick/White people go to school where they teach you how to be thick..."

Flip is '1977', already well known to those in the know:..."No Elvis, Beatles or Rolling Stones in 1977".

Hmm, so how come the riff is pure Kinks? No matter - forget the medium, cos this one has the message. Blag it, steal it, borrow it, tape it off the radio if they'll play it.  Buy it an' you're a wimp, miss it an' you're a real turkey."

(The Clash 1977 - Caroline Coon)

For the original photo session by Caroline Coon Joe Strummer was wearing  a boiler suit with the words 'Hate and War' painted on the back but this was airbrushed out and replaced with '1977'. One of those pictures then became the front cover for the Debut Single by The Clash. The picture was inspired by random stop and searches by the London Police upon Young Punks.

John Peel had played the single on his show ten days before its release and if I remember correctly (and the old memory is not always as good as it once was) someone in school had taped it off the radio and had brought the cassette into school and we all gathered around his cassette player to listen to this first communiqué from the HQ of The Clash all one minute and fifty-eight seconds of it!

Terry Chimes features on the single although not on the actual cover, he did help them record their debut album and is listed on that as Tory Crimes!

All the hype about The Clash was now to be determined by a 7" piece of plastic containing two songs, both under two minutes and totalling 3mins and 38 seconds. If they couldn't say all they wanted to say within that time frame they might as well have packed up and gone home! And say it they certainly did! This was the sound of Teenage Revolution!
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