The Clash’s 40 greatest songs ranked!
Forty years on from the London Calling album, we rate the best tracks by the genre-hopping punks
40. 1977 (1977)
A historical artefact, not for the proto-punk music, but because the lyrics epitomise the new waves perceived threat to the old guard. No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones / In 1977, sang Joe Strummer, hardly about to let his love of such pop greats get in the way of punks declaration of year zero.
39. White Riot (1977)
Guitarist Mick Jones now dislikes the first Clash single, its lyrics written by Strummer after the band were caught up in the 1976 Notting Hill riots and he concluded white people needed a riot of our own. The sentiment hasnt aged well, but the song exemplifies the amphetamine-fuelled punk the band would leave behind.
38. Whats My Name (1977)
A Clash curio in that its the only one of the groups songs to bear a writing credit for Keith Levene, the bands original guitarist. Levene showers melodic gold dust all over this otherwise shouty punk stomper, but is better known for his work with John Lydon in Public Image Ltd.
37. Know Your Rights (1982)
From Combat Rock, the final album by the classic quartet of Strummer, Jones, bassist Paul Simonon and drummer Topper Headon. The tank was getting emptied, but Strummers black humour brims through lines such as You have the right to free speech / As long as youre not dumb enough to actually try it.
36. Im So Bored With the USA (1977)
This hugely anthemic track on debut album The Clash began life as Im So Bored With You, a song about Joness girlfriend, before Strummers ad-libbed SA took it in a new direction. The blistering critique of US imperialism and exported culture (Yankee detectives are always on the TV) didnt stop the Clashs love of American iconography, cars and clothes.
35. Janie Jones (1977)
Original Clash drummer Terry Chimes uncharitably credited as Tory Crimes on The Clash propels the debuts storming opener, a eulogy to a 60s pop celebrity and libertine who had been jailed for vice offences in 1973. On release, the convicted madam returned Strummers affections in the song Letter to Joe.
34. Charlie Dont Surf (1980)
By the epic three-disc fourth album, Sandinista!, the Clash arguably had too many ideas for their own good, but within the 36-song sprawl are undoubted treasures. Titled after a Lt Col Kilgore quip in Apocalypse Now, theres an element of the doo-wop era to this sweet song about, well, cultural imperialism.
33. Brand New Cadillac (1979)
This bracing cover of a 1959 Vince Taylor and the Playboys track refers to the early Brit rockers glamorous dream car (when most of them probably had to make do with a humble Ford Anglia). From the double album London Calling, the Clashs creative zenith.
32. The Guns of Brixton (1979)
Brixton boy Simonon wanted some songwriting cash and so penned this memorable song about police harassment and discontent in his London neighbourhood, two years before the district exploded into rioting. In 1990, Simonon received an unexpected windfall when Norman Cook (later Fatboy Slim) sampled the groove for Beats Internationals hit Dub Be Good to Me.
Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/jan/09/the-clash-40-greatest-songs-ranked