Classic Album Review: Combat Rock by The Clash

During my freshman year of college I made many attempts to form a rock band. In one of my attempts I met a bassist who lived right in my building just a couple of floors down. Unfortunately, we never ended up forming a band but he did introduce me to what is now one of my favorite bands. While we were jamming one day he mentioned how he loved the baseline to "Rock the Casbah", and after listening to it I was hooked on The Clash.

The Clash is a band that formed in 1976 during the British punk wave. What made them unique as a punk band was their eclectic style as they incorporated elements of reggae, funk, ska and more into their music.

"Combat Rock" is the fifth studio album by The Clash and was released on May 14 1982. This album is the band's best-selling and has been certified double platinum in the United States.

Songs such as "Should I Stay or Should I Go" and "Rock the Casbah" remain classic tunes that are still imprinted in modern day popular culture. "Should I Stay or Should I Go" intelligently relies on a simple set of power chords in order to create the foundation for a poppy and aggressive tune. Additionally, Joe Strummer delivers a fiery vocal performance with a slight hint of irritation that gives the song an added weight. It holds no bars in its depiction of the frustrations of a man in a relationship that he is not sure his partner wants to keep up. The message remains one that many people can relate to in their own personal lives and an incredibly catchy melody keeps it alive. It is an over the top outpouring of emotions that manages to rev up the embittered romantic inside all of us.

"Rock the Casbah" deals with the issue of governments censoring out the music people want to listen to -- with the power of disco.   An upbeat piano begins the track and is followed by a pounding but catchy baseline, the occasional striking of a guitar and hard-hitting drums. It is hard to resist the urge to move to the rhythm of this song. I can only imagine just how awesome it would have been to hear this song performed live by The Clash. "Rock the Casbah" is not just a catchy pop song; it's also a call to action for people to question the limitations imposed on them.

"Combat Rock" is so full of great content that even a lesser known song on the album called "Straight to Hell" formed the structure for not one, but two hit songs: M.I.A's "Paper Planes" and T.I's "Swagga Like Us". The Clash has had an everlasting impact on the music world that time and scores of new artists have not been able to erase.

The Clash Website

A detailed band biography can be found here.

-Samuel Figuera

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