|"I DONT CARE, COZ I'M NOT ALL THERE!"
This is the 45 which started it all as far as the Clash are concerned. When I first heard this record in the
summer of '77 around a mates house 40 years ago, it hit me like sledgehammer. I was 15 and just exploring
the boundaries of Wolvo youth. I'd just been expelled from school, was heavily into aggro and insubordination
and punk was to become the perfect soundtrack to my life. At that moment Punk was new, it was our culture
the most exciting sound to enter my universe. It wasn't nice, it wasn't disco, but it was dangerous. And just like
the Stranglers who I'd discovered a few months previously, the Clash were a whole new ball game, way
more intense and inciendary on this 18th March 1977 release.
Immediately those Police sirens and the speed hits you right between the eyes. This was 1.58 mins of pure angst right
through to the broken glass and shop alarms, all
of which were exciting sounds in my impressionable
existance. And that terrace chant of a chorus....
"WHITE RIOT, I WANNA RIOT,
WHITE RIOT, A RIOT OF MY OWN!"
resounded in my audio enslavenent totally. I love
the way it was conveyed by Strummer with a slight
off set double vocal track on the gang vocals that
totally enthralled my stereo enviroment. Later on I
thought the album version was way inferior to this
incendiary 45 cut and still do.
A record that roared political romantiscm on top of
a high velocity riffs as fast as the speed of light,
it was a no holds barred corrosive rallying call.
"All the power is in the hands,
of the people rich enough to buy it,
while we walk the streets,
to chicken to even try it".
Joe was right, the white youth weren't as organised
or as one as the black youth. But I never
contemplated it was a responce to the previous
years Notting Hill carnival riots, coz that was a
million miles from my world. What i did know was
that it sounded almost futuristic in sound and
theme. The actual thought of a white riot on Britains
streets was something you only seen at football
matches in those days. And as Strummer spat out
"are you taking over,
are you taking orders,
are you going backwards,
are you going forwards".
It meant a lot. Those lyrics really primed my
imagination. I optimistically thought maybe the
punks could start a riot on Britains streets, it
sounded exciting and our enemy weren't football rivals no more, they were the establishment and cops. It was a brave
and dangerous notion, just what I was experiencing in my own life of fights and aggro on the streets of
Wolverhamptons made songs like this so much more relevant to our enviroment.
Strummer explained to NME: "The only thing we're saying about the blacks is that they've got their problems and
they're prepared to deal with them. But white men, they just ain't prepared to deal with them - everything's too cozy.
They've got stereos, drugs, hi-fis, cars. The poor blacks and the poor whites are in the same boat."
And he's right. But kids like me and thousands of others who were on the dole never seen it as a right wing message at
all. That notion was conjured up by the out of touch middle class music press. We just found it a revolutionary clarrion
call. For once in our life it was our culture these bands were singing about, it was new, extreme and for kids who
wanted fun and excitement in their no future lives it was mind blowing.
'White Riot' was released in the UK on 26th March 1977. It was originally inspired when Joe Strummer and Paul
Simonon got caught in the racial no mans land between charging police and angry black youths at the August Notting
Hill carnival riots in 1976. By early 1977 The Clash had just signed to CBS Records and this was their debut single
recorded over a weekend in February '77 by Simon Humphrey who amazingly never got a mention on the sleeve. The
b-side is another classic '1977', which has a slower groove with an ultra addictive riff. And some of the best lyrics to
come outta punk since 'Anarchy In The UK'. It was another slogan that kids like me and you could relate too. I
personally never liked Elvis, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones they were old cunts and mean't nothing to 15 year old
kids. However all of the music press and straight society seemed to still do. So it was sacriklegeous as well as honest.
However years later most of the Clash would do a u turn on this statement
but that was another story.
There are two versions: the single version (also appearing on the US version
of the album The Clash released in 1979), and a different version on the UK
album. According to their respective label copy the single version is 1:58 in
running time. Engineer Simon Humphrey recalls. "He (Robin Blanchflower)
phoned me on the Wednesday and asked, 'What are you doing at the
weekend?' I said, 'I don't know,' to which he said, 'Right, I've just signed this
band called the Clash. I don't know what they've got, but they've got
something. I'll send them 'round now to say hello and then on Saturday and
Sunday you'll record and mix two tracks for the A and B sides of a single.'
Robin never came to the studio, I never had to play him a rough mix and there
were no demos. They just pressed the record, stuck it out two weeks later
and it went straight onto the chart.”
'White Riot'; a song that was accorded different recordings for the versions
that were issued on the album and as a single; the former (running time 1:55)
commencing with Mick Jones' "one-two-three-four” count-in. This version
recorded at the National Film & Television School in Beaconsfield,” "That
live version, which had been recorded on eight-track for a very early
video, was the one that they decided they wanted on the album, even
though the record company would have never put it out as a single
because it was terrible in terms of its technical quality and the band
agreed. I think it was just one of those punk/New Wave ideas to give the
fans value for money... Or maybe they were just trying to be perverse,
undermining the record company, because they did genuinely say, 'God,
this sounds a bit ropey.' It was below demo quality. In the punk spirit, it
was a case of 'This is what we sounded like when we went to the film
studio,' and so I remixed it for the album to try to bring it up to spec. It
was so horrible, it perfectly suited punk.” the latter (running time 1:58)
with a police siren grabbed from a BBC sound-effects record. Ditto the
subsequent, anarchic sounds of an alarm bell and breaking glass, while
that of stomping feet was contributed by assorted friends in the studio."
'White Riot' reached number 38 in the uk charts. The cover with its
Beider-Meinoff street guerrilla pose was influenced by reggage artist
Joe Gibbs And The Proffesionals 'State Of Emergency' (pictured above).
The Clash cover shot was by Caroline Coon, music journalist for
Melody Maker and punk afficionado and one time Paul Simonon
squeeze, was taken in November 1976. The back of Strummers
overalls was touched up by artist Sebastian Conran (he also designed
clothes, posters, promotional material, record sleeves, and stage sets
for the Clash) to include a paint splattered '1977'. Which originally had 'Hate And War' on (see picture). Once it was
released the sleeve become a blueprint for the generic punks v cops cover design.
Peter Don't Care March 2017
|This Months Backdrop
This months backdrop is the iconic band shot
from the 'White Riot' 45 taken by Caroline Coon
in November 1976.
This Months Youtube
Is the Clash 45 'White Riot' single version (audio
only) which if you compare versions is the
Also some interesting footage I found on youtube
from the earlier 'White Riot' session filmed at
National Film & Television School in
Beaconsfield. This clip is taken from Julien
Temples 2007 documentary for Channel 4 on
Joe Strummers life. Joe Strummer : The Future
|Born October 26th 2009 - Conceived 1977
A Punk Rocker Production © 2017
|THIS SITE IS DEDICATED TO...
Last update: April 16th 2017
GOOD NOOSE - UK GIGS - PUNK NEWS...16/4/17
MARCH EDITORIAL - THE CLASH 'WHITE RIOT' 45...13/3/17
REVIEWS - (RECORDS) WORLD POWER OR RUIN...22/1/17
SITES FOR SORE EYES - PUNK BANDS...8/1/17
REVIEWS - (FANZINES) GABRIELS HOUNDS SIT IN JUDGEMENT...9/11/16
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TOUCH AND GO FANZINE BIBIOGRAPHY
BLIGHT AT THE END OF THE FUNNEL
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ARTCORE #36 2017
RIOT 77 #19 2017
POSTIVE CREED #31 2016
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|This Months Playlist
THE CLASH - 'WHITE RIOT' 45
THE CLASH - 'CAPITAL RADIO' EP
THE CLASH - 'REMOTE CONTROL' 45
THE CLASH - 'COMPLETE CONTROL' 45
THE CLASH - THE CLASH' LP
This Months Website
Is the bands official site THE CLASH . Not as
personnel as some of the neat fan sites who don't
seem to be updated much these days. But boasts
a design based on Paul Simonon's design from
the 2013 'Sound System' boxset.