The Sex Pistols may have been the first British punk rock band, but The Clash were the real definitive British punk rockers. Brash, fiery and bolstered with an outlaw image, they were charged with a certain righteousness that only a select few punks were able to pull off.
Despite a band that seemingly had “traditional” roots in upbringing, they were a band who evidently restored the pre-emptive passion and protest of rock ‘n’ roll, charting a course of explosive chaos that lasted all but 10 years.
Although a comparatively short time to what they set out for, they amassed a devout following on both sides of the Atlantic. From initial intrigue with 1977’s The Clash to mass pandemonium with London Calling in 1979 and finally settling on an established legendary status finalising on Combat Rock a mere three years later, the band were more of a spark of excitement and rebellion, and less of a fizzle-out of relevancy where you see now 40 years later down the line.
Although the discussions regarding Pistols v Clash will go on for many years, I don’t think it’s more of a straight victory as opposed to a two-horse race between the two punk giants.
While Sex Pistols were devoid of accepting any sense of moral principles – literal anarchy in the UK – , The Clash were a more emotionally-charged band, filtered with an understanding of supporting leftist political ideologies. Often, this careened into an adventure exploring musical lanes of roots of reggae and blues, all the while staying true to the mechanics of hard rock. Just take a look at Train in Vain (Stand By Me)!
What must be understood the most however, is how integral it is to keep this magic of punk rock centred in the forefront of our minds, aware of where we came from and where we are now. There it still a presence of punk-rock idolisation among the current bands we see today – Idles and Shame to name a few – but it’s worth mentioning that it certainly hasn’t been the same since the 1970s, and especially since Thatcher’s London, might I add. It will only take the same Tory Government to get all those rebellious punks crawling out of the woodwork again..