Provocative Stiffs frontman Grant provoked a historical debate the last time I saw them by saying something about the Ramones inventing Punk Rock and this time have created a response by me to the statement 'Everyone loves the Clash'. Well sorry, but I don't.
I don't know when I first didn't like them - from the start I thought the music was so-so - I thought 'White Riot' was pretty disturbing and when I saw them on the White Riot tour I was decidedly unimpressed though I kept quiet about it for some time. In fact I bought all the singles and saw them about 3 or 4 times but I never really got into them. I thought it was me. The music press wrote endlessly about them - serious articles with arty pictures of them posing like rebels - they were a fashionable band - doing all the reggae stuff - they were the 70s fab four. I think that was what made me dislike them. All the support bands for the Clash tours always went down terribly with the fans - yet they were the real bona fide article in most cases - Suicide - Richard Hell and the Voidoids - Clash fans generally gave them hell. Why? Cos they weren't a slick rock band like the Clash. Think of the Slits and the Buzzcocks on the White Riot tour? People liked it but there was a tension there, some awkwardness. On come the Clash and it's boom - rock and roll! But hang on - it isn't supposed to be 'boom! rock and roll' - we could go and see AC/DC for that - might these fellows be a con-job? Not real punks but old blokes, some clever musos who've been taken down to Boy on the King's Road and then politicised by some talcy malcy type? Strummer was 25 in 77 - I was 17 - they seemed to me like the same old blokes who hung around in guitar shops in their Rod Stewart haircuts waiting for a break. But I kept my opinions to myself. I do remember writing a letter slagging them off to the NME after seeing them live for the last time. It wasn't printed. Anyway I can honestly say apart from playing the first lp maybe once for nostalgia in the last 29 years I can't say I missed them.
Maybe it is me. I didn't like the Pistols much either. Sue and I turned down a chance to see them while on holiday in Cornwall - they were playing in Penzance coincidently while we were there. We thought it would just be an evening of violence. We were on holiday from that sort of thing! I know people deeply love the Clash and hold them with great affection and so on but I don't know I can't see it. Totally lacking in any humour, they weren't bad enough at playing, they always said the right thing, and they made lots of money. They weren't punks - they were a rock band.