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Never Mind the Beatles: America Met the Clash 35 Years Ago This Week

This week in 1979, the band whose muse was London made America their mistress.

by
Kathy Shaidle

Bio

February 1, 2014 - 9:43 am
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Next week I’ll be writing about the 50th anniversary of the so-called British Invasion and the Beatles’ epochal debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.

(I’ll also be debunking some of the myths that quickly grew up around that event…)

Meanwhile, this week marks the 35th anniversary of the Clash’s first American tour, to support their Give ‘Em Enough Rope LP.

Sure, their debut U.S. single — a thundering cover of the Bobby Fuller Four’s “I Fought The Law” — was climbing up the American charts.

But the Sex Pistols’ only close encounter with the U.S. the year before had proven fatal. 

Fans and detractors alike wondered if Big Bad America would also crush the Pistols’ only still-standing rivals, especially since the Clash had dubbed their first visit the “Pearl Harbor Tour,” and launched almost every U.S. gig with the bitchy anthem “I’m So Bored With the U.S.A” — to determine “if the crowd had a sense of humor.”

Appropriately enough considering the tune had started out as a song about love — not a love song, per se, as those were frowned upon — that gesture rather resembled a little boy’s expression of affection for his female crush: pulling her pigtails.

Because for all their faddish political bombast, the Clash’s frontmen had loved America from afar for years.

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Top Rated Comments   
Never understood why anyone liked this truly awful and talentless band. Their sound is tinny, and their arrangements are unsophisticated, lack power, unoriginal and boring.

Take away the contrariness, trendiness and posing, and there's really nothing left. What kind of conformist redneck can't go to the running dog paper tiger Studio 54? That's as much as admitting you wear a uniform you can't take off, even while you write songs about conformists who wear uniforms they can't take off.

Never mind the Beatles? The two bands don't exist in the same world. The Clash is simply a version of Bay City Rollers with street cred.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (30)
All Comments   (30)
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So I read all this ... and it's boring anecdotes, all the way down. Yawn.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
I discovered The Clash in 1980 when "Train in Vain" was on the radio. Their album "London Calling" was the second album I ever purchased after Pink Floyd's "The Wall" which I had bought the week before. Of course, all taste in music is subjective, but for me, The Clash was one of the 10 greatest bands of all time.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
People's musical tastes are what they are but fundamentally, not liking something is not the same as that thing being unworthy of being liked. The Beatles and The Clash were both great rock'n'roll bands. I'll pass on Welk, although he always fronted a good band, it's not quite my cuppa. Now if you'll excuse me, London's Calling and Liverpool's on line one.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have to say, if I were to whip up a list of the ten best acts from 1979-1990, the Clash would not be on it.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
O.K. I read this & I din't get the point...is there a point?
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
The bad news is that the Clash was boring then and they're boring now. The good news is that they get a lot of play on supermarket muzak systems. I worked in a store briefly and we heard them three or four times a day.

Were they very popular? Yes, they were. So were the Monkees.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Many years ago I heard Nirvana's Teen Spirit being played on an elevator as musak. I mean the real musak, which sounds like mechanical chimes or a tinny miniature organ without the lyrics.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, I am not a Beatles fan. They wrote some good music but equal to the hysteria? The Clash were good because they incorporated so many styles of music into their own. Then they played NYC 22 straight days even though their shows had been way over sold. They had integrity too.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is this woman the worst writer on PJ Media? I don't know. But she sure does give me a headache. There's never any flow, just jumping around from one flighty thought to another. Can't an editor help out somehow? So irritating and uninteresting. And why not write about something you're truly passionate about rather than phoning in a Tiger Beat-esk Clash story? Sorry, but this really put me in a bad mood. LOL!
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ya don't have to read it.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Never understood why anyone liked this truly awful and talentless band. Their sound is tinny, and their arrangements are unsophisticated, lack power, unoriginal and boring.

Take away the contrariness, trendiness and posing, and there's really nothing left. What kind of conformist redneck can't go to the running dog paper tiger Studio 54? That's as much as admitting you wear a uniform you can't take off, even while you write songs about conformists who wear uniforms they can't take off.

Never mind the Beatles? The two bands don't exist in the same world. The Clash is simply a version of Bay City Rollers with street cred.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Unsophisticated? It's punk dude. Lack power? You're foolin yourself.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
They lack artistic and emotional power. Being loud and ragey fakery is not power. Listen to Grand Funk live and The Clash live. Grand Funk had only 3 guys and yet they made interesting, unique and original arrangements. Grand Funk didn't sound like anyone. The Clash sounded like a dial tone. They sounded like a dial tone because they were unoriginal.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
We'll just have to disagree I guess.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
They sucked then and they still suck today. And I am glad I don't have to listen to them 'cause I won't. Ramones anyone?
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, you're right about The Beatles but ... you're just wrong about The Clash.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ya don't have to listen to it.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't have to bang a window sill on my head either. That doesn't make it situational.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't care what rock group happens to be your favorite. One NEVER says "Never Mind the Beatles" as you so thoughtlessly proclaimed in your title. I would bet that The Clash would agree with me.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's a play on the title of The Sex Pistol's debut album. Lighten up. And actually, the Beatles are really boring. sorry.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
You find the most stunningly original and wide-ranging play book of arrangements in the history of rock and roll boring and the dial tone of Clash arrangements... exciting? I think what you enjoy and are bored by has less to do with music and more to do with the trendy ephemera that surrounds so-called integrity or lack of street cred. I understand cool is an integral part of enjoying rock and roll and some people take that a long way.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Shaidle, the midget reformed drunk, self-identifies as "punk," whatever that means. I guess that must have been edgy 35 years ago.

And, apparently, the stories that we've been told about the British Invasion for 50 years is just nonsense, and Shaidle is going to give us all the lowdown next week. Like me, I'll bet you just can't wait to finally have the truth exposed.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree about them being boring. Thanks for mentioning the Clash.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Beatles are Boomer's Lawrence Walk.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks for confirming that cool trumps art. In fact it doesn't. You're talking about a thing that is not innately a part of creativity. The thing I always laugh at is that the so-called conformist Doris Day was a nymphomaniac who changed her look many times over the years and Cary Grant dropped acid. Meanwhile, the edgy performance artist Laurie Anderson has had the same hair do for 40 years. Why? She is either a conformist or her fans are such shallow conformists, she can't change something as shallow as her frickin' do. That's because underneath, there's nothing there. The music Lawrence Welk indulged in has demonstrably more creativity than anything the hip-dependent and crippled Anderson ever had access to.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wrong. The Beatles were the Boomers' Backstreet Boys.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Take your own advice and, by the way, that's the biggest piece of nonsense I've read in a long time. Well done!
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
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