Monday, December 13, 2010

The Clash - "White Riot" - CBS, 1977

I thought I'd mix it up this week with a Punk 45. And I was actually alive when this record came out, so that's different (yes, I was the ripe old age of 1).
"White Riot" was The Clash's first single after signing their first big record deal, with CBS.  The contract was signed on January 27th, and The Clash reported to the studio the next day to churn out the first single.  The sessions took place in CBS's studio on Whitfield Street, with Mickey Foote on as producer. (interesting tidbit: the Stooges recorded "Raw Power" at the same studio in '73).
More Punk Than You

"White Riot" was a tune inspired by the '76 Notting Hll Carnival Riots, which members of The Clash accidently found themselves caught in.  Simmering racial tensions, exacerbated by the National Fronts' increased public presence, got disaffected black youth rioting that day - so how did The Clash get "White Riot" out of that?
From Kris Needs' great book "Joe Strummer and the legend of The Clash":

"Being inspired to write a song called "White Riot" in response to the Carnival incident can never be considered one of the band's blunders. They were simply calling for white people to show a similar passion for change and action as the black youths at Notting Hill. Not neccesarily by throwing bricks at coppers, but simply getting off their arses and not being content with their drab lot in life."

Pic from the Notting Hill riots

The song wasn't a big charter in the States and only reached #38 in the UK, but it did spend a total 33 weeks on the UK charts.
The Clash of course went on to become Punk legends.  If you don't enjoy The Clash, then I'm sorry, but we can't be friends.
CBS Records released the non-US versions of US-based Columbia Records, to avoid confusion with EMI's Columbia Records. It was founded in 1888, evolving from an earlier enterprise, the American Graphophone Company — successor to the Volta Graphophone Company. Columbia is the oldest surviving brand name in pre-recorded sound, being the first record company to produce pre-recorded records as opposed to blank cylinders. Columbia is now owned by Sony.
And of course, the clip!

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