The Clash Steve Simels - Essay

Steve Simels

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The thing you have to understand about the Clash is that, good as they are, you must take them with a grain of salt. God knows, we need bands that have more on their minds than a fat royalty statement, but I'm old enough to remember the revolutionary rhetoric of a lot the Sixties musicians, and while I doubt that the Clash will wind up their career singing million-selling love songs à la the Jefferson Starship, that prospect does help put things in perspective somewhat. So the Clash's political commitment, however well intentioned, does not impress me particularly.

Actually, given that most of their concerns are not terribly relevant to an American audience …, the Clash are already being presented here not as an especially political band, but rather as keepers of the rock-and-roll flame, sort of like Bruce Springsteen, and on that level I find them quite exciting. Oh, they have a lot of growing to do; their lack of polish in the great, early Who/Kinks tradition seems less an act of homage and more like simple inexperience…. They've got real melodies …, which already puts them head and shoulders above the American heavy-metal brigade. In short, anyone who remembers with affection a neat little working-class combo of a few years ago called Mott the Hoople will have little trouble liking ["Give 'Em Enough Rope"]. (pp. 107-08)

Steve Simels, in a review of, "Give 'Em Enough Rope," in Stereo Review, Vol. 42, No. 2, February, 1979, pp. 107-08.