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Mar 11

THE CLASH – “Should I Stay Or Should I Go”

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#661, 9th March 1991

March 1991. I’m coming to the end of five years as a scholarship boy at a top boarding school. It’s been – oh yes – an education. I’ve bullied, I’ve been bullied, I’ve hidden myself away, I’ve learned a lot about institutions and very little about the bits of real life that happen in between them. I’ve fallen for music. I’ve discovered – though I’ve no idea yet how important this will be – that I’m much more comfortable putting words into the world than I am a physical presence. And as such I’ve stumbled into being the nominal editor of the cosy, unrespected, unread school magazine.

What’s in this journal? It has endless reports of a sport only a few thousand people have ever played. It has indifferent landscape photography. It has an anonymous gossip column (which I write) mostly about the editors of its inky, photocopied school rival. Which also has an anonymous gossip column. Which I also write. It has creative writing – oh god, the creative writing. In my first week I’m sent a long poem in iambic tetrameter about the poet’s copping off with an unfortunate girl at a school disco. “She kissed me like a hoover would / A lot of suction. It felt good.” Reader, I published him. And faked a letter of complaint in the next issue.

What has this to do with that band of my fellow poshos, The Clash? Well, the magazine also publishes music reviews, of schoolboy bands. The bands are always awful, the reviews are by convention always encouraging. Except as a music lover I decide it is time to Take A Stand, and so I commission a scathing review of a particularly braying group whose repertoire is mostly punk rock cover versions. “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” among them.

I got the writer to take an obvious line – how nauseating to see the anthems of punk sung by the scions of the ruling class, blah blah. Good rabble-rousing stuff, utterly hypocritical of course. It was a fairly gross spectacle to be sure but there was a lot of emotion I wasn’t ready to examine lurking behind my reflexive hate. What I was really expressing wasn’t an incipient preciousness about punk authenticity but a more deep-felt unease and resentment about rock and the uncomplicated, well-worn hedonism it had come to represent. The boys getting up on stage and playing punk rock weren’t rebelling against anything much but they were doing more than I was, with my knotted, paralysed suspicion of everything. But if breaking out of that suspicion meant sinking into the cosiness of rock, was it really worth it?

And then suddenly “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” was at number one, and my personal identity crises were being played out across pop. It’s The Clash at Number One! But from a jeans ad! But still, The Clash! But so what? Half the NME got excited, half cued up the “He who fucks nuns….” quotes. As for me? I hated the song, and the band, even more.

But why? OK, the anti-Clash argument in a nutshell: they were – by this point, for sure – a big sloppy rock’n’roll hug, a four-headed walking reassurance that nothing had really changed in the 70s, that rock could still be about – could again be about – riffs and leathers and blokey mob-handedness. But more abstracted – they didn’t seem to be in it for sex or money or even religion, politics perhaps but also just a sense that rock was in itself still a good idea. The Clash Are The Rock’n’Roll Preservation Society: that was how their fandom came over by 1991. And maybe that wasn’t their fault, but all their branding – that “Last Gang In Town” stuff – seemed to point to it. It repulsed me. I didn’t want to join any gang that would have me as a member. How fortunate that no gangs were asking!

More than Queen, more than Maiden, more than B**** A**** even, this hit stank of the past, all the more strongly because so many people around me seemed to think it wasn’t the past. And so I find it very hard to listen to now – my dislike of it is still located in the vicious roil of being 17, semi-detached from the repetitive ramalama knock-off I hear when I put it on. I even like some Clash songs now, but not this. In the pub I suggested maybe it was their “Rainy Day Women” – an irritating crossover hit – but that’s not quite right.

So let’s strain for objectivity. Good chugalug riff. Vocals a bit clearer than usual – I like Mick Jones more than Strummer as a singer. The mood? I guess I quite like how the goof-off Spanish backing vox undercut the apparent tension in the thing, provide an illustration of the matey delights awaiting the boy if he goes, but the sullen, finger-jabbing attack of it reminds me too much of The Stranglers (and who would want this moaner to stay, anyhow?). And then the double-time bit starts and I just can’t keep up the pretence – I’m 17 again, and I still just hear this as rock music, and rock music as an institution, a school I can’t wait to leave.

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Comments

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  1. 31
    RDMcNamara on 29 Mar 2011 #

    Always thought ‘Protex Blue’ or ’48 Hours’ would have made more sense soundtracking that particular advert… It was a lazy thumbs-in-the-beltloop head-nodder in 1982, 1991,and in 2011. ‘Train In Vain’ proved that Jones could do that sort of thing well when the mood took him, but this is nothing-tossed-off stuff (maybe due to the fact the directions offered to him by BAD at that point were more appealing).

    4.

  2. 32
    Martin Schneider on 29 Mar 2011 #

    I have always thought there was something off about this song; I don’t enjoy it very much, and I was 13 when it was new, and didn’t have any particular baggage about it. It’s just *too* simple. To me it’s a form/content problem. The form is fine, but the content is moronic. I wouldn’t give it a 3, but I might give it a 4. There should be a wikipedia category for bands who hit #1 with one of their worst songs.

  3. 33
    Izzy on 29 Mar 2011 #

    Haha! Great review; precisely the wrong mark. I don’t know what the rest of you are doing, agreeing with it as if it were an objective thing. This is an 8. (Excellent post from Cumbrian too btw)

    Two things elevate it for me, the difference I guess being that for me they elevate it quite high. They’re the same things everyone else has identified – the double-time section and (especially) the call-and-response vocals. I’m reminded of the Eno bit quoted in Fortress of Solitude (I don’t know where it’s originally from I’m afraid) about the importance of the answering backing vocal in pop, how a disproportionate number of classic records have that feature. It’s those records’ way of enveloping us in the song, I think the argument was. This is one of the more unusual examples of the trick, but it pulls it off well.

    I heard a samba bloco doing this recently and it was quite wonderful. They (I suppose through necessity) went with a heavier beat throughout, effectively replacing the slightly pedestrian opening with the double-time bit (or triple-time or triplet-time, whatever it is that makes samba groove) all the way through, and it worked great.

  4. 34
    anto on 29 Mar 2011 #

    Excellent review even if the score is too low. Admittedly this is the one Clash song that Status Qua could cover and do total justice but it doesn’t even sound to me as if they’re holding it in high regard.
    The best bits of SISOSIG are when the singers are clearly taking the piss – Mick Jones’ camp TEASE!TEASE!TEASE! and Joe Strummers goofy Spanish (was Frank Black listening one wonders?)
    As number ones go it’s the definition of a pyhrric victory. I notice the time gap of Levis musical plundering had diminished since 1987.
    First a sixties soul favourite, then 70s rock by Steve Miller and now a song only 10 years old by a band whose fans would only really be starting to feel nostalgic. Unless I’m mistaken the Levis tracks that topped the charts after this would be contemporary.
    Like trousers, like mind indeed.

  5. 35
    hardtogethits on 29 Mar 2011 #

    I am staggered no one has attacked the lyric. As #32 says, the content is too simple. The Should I Stay Or Should I Go dilemma should be easy to present, but here it is all wrong. As a Viz reader once pointed out, if staying will be double the trouble of going, there’s no choice to make. Go.

    Then to compound the issue, there’s the phrase “Exactly who’m I’m supposed to be” – and this is definitely what is sung, lest anyone protest it’s “Exactly who’m I supposed to be?” If someone pleaded to me “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” and then introduced a phrase as ungrammatical as that, I would be suggesting we discuss the use of “whom” before discussing our future.

    These mistakes grate every time. I’m surprised at the general negative feelings towards the Clash, but this is not a good record. 3.

  6. 36
    Tommy Mack on 29 Mar 2011 #

    My response to the the standard Clash-not-proper-punk-blokey-rock-revivalism argument has always been that if blokey rock can be as sharp, visceral and fun as The Clash, then perhaps it’s not always a bad thing.

    I’ve always been a sucker for the last gang in town thing. In 1991 it probably seemed as old hat as it does in 2011 post several back-to-basics rock revivals from The Strokes onwards. But when I first caught onto it in the late nineties, when every other band was a gaggle of pudding-faced mouth-breathers with a string section, it seemed a thrilling escape: that music could be your life, your band your gang and that you could use your music as a recruiting drive for your gang. Although, once I discovered him, it was Adam Ant’s brand of band-as-gang rather than Strummer’s that appealed most to me.

    Plus it always seems that last-gang-in-town-haters are like 17-year-old Tom; uptight, self-righteous Morrissey fans suspicious of anything resembling fun: railing against rock’s blokeyness/revivalism/predictability while secretly, actually hating it’s messiness, momentum and joie-de-vivre: dismissing the like of the Clash as dead and dull and then raving over even more retro, predictable, safe stuff: the (imaginary?) enemy against whom Steven Wells used to rail.

    That said SISOSIG does seem to embody everything the Clash-haters are talking about: chuga-lugga mid-paced pub boogie. In 1991 aged 9 (actually, it was probably a little later once I got to high school), I heard it as an extention of people like Jason Donovan and Bros wearing leather jackets and quiffs in a late-eighties nod to the fifties: conscious and deliberate rock’n’roll revivalism. I didn’t realise it was seven years old.

    It’s far from their worst song; Lord knows they’ve recorded plenty of utter crap, but it’s probably the worst of their big hits (I even quite like Police and Thieves) probably a 6 for me, although I enjoyed it when it came up on random today, so maybe a 7 today!

    Fave Clash song, probably Guns Of Brixton, maybe Complete Control.

    Not sure about Will Smith doing …Casbah best, but I remember hearing Paper Planes and thinking it was great, but probably only coz it leant on a great Clash riff, then subsequently hearing Straight To Hell and thinking ‘Christ it’s a bit glum and slow compared to Paper Planes!’

  7. 37
    23 Daves on 29 Mar 2011 #

    #30 – Interestingly enough, I once shared a crowded tube carriage with a bunch of Clash fans on their way back from a Joe Strummer gig. There was a lot of excited chatter about the genius of the man, and all the great old songs he played, then suddenly one of them piped up: “I don’t know if I feel very good about this, to be honest with you”.
    “What do you mean?” asked another.
    “All this is just NOSTALGIA,” he said with some distaste, at which point everybody went completely quiet for thirty seconds or so, seemingly acknowledging he had a bit of a point. I obviously don’t know what they were thinking, but I suspect they were wondering if this was how they’d have seen themselves living in the 21st Century.

    As for me personally, I would go as far as to say that I hate The Clash. I once houseshared with a very good friend of mine who worshipped Strummer and I explained that I didn’t like the band, to which he loaned me some books about them. I read one, then disliked them even more. I’m not against bands using mythology to further their image, but The Clash embraced such hoary old cliches that I found them hard to admire – of the million and one possibilities punk offered, they took the fifties outsider rebel idea and regurgitated it. Then there was the small problem of Strummer seemingly embracing myth purely to cover up some uncomfortable truths about his own background, which other bands of the era would have been lambasted by the press for. The Clash, however, were regarded as somehow exempt and “special”.

    Then there’s the music, which is mostly unimaginative and hectoring. As Julian Cope pointed out, “White Riot” is little more than a tinny Glitter Band stomp, and as I’m fond of highlighting, “The Call Up” is dull and obvious, a real stinker of a single by the standards of anyone in the era. When I first saw the promo clip for the latter, I actually collapsed with laughter at the image of the letterbox having planks of wood nailed over it. Did anyone find any of that posturing and any of that hackneyed imagery powerful?

    “Should I Stay or Should I Go” itself is barely much better, being – as several posters have already commented – moronic rock and roll which sets out its stall within the first thirty seconds and then fails to achieve much more. It’s a dumb-ass riff, and admittedly a good dumb-ass riff which could in itself sustain the idea were it not, once again, for the prevailing tinniness and the lack of drive the track has. It slopes along until the chorus and the finale, at which point the band go batshit with their ramshackle thrashing, but somehow sound as if they’re merely pissing around in a rehearsal room somewhere. It sounds too cool for school and lacks commitment, which in a nutshell is actually my major problem with a lot of their output. Perhaps if I’d been born at a different time and seen them live, I’d have got it, but as somebody listening to their studio output, all I hear is a band who are too vain to truly have an impact on me personally, too terrified of the idea that their masks might slip if they break into too much of a sweat.

    I was once nearly punched by a Clash fan when he overheard me slating Strummer in a pub (and this was long after Strummer had died, incidentally). He left the bar in a strop instead, and I was warned I’d had a “lucky escape” by his friends. I’ve had other aggressive reactions from fans when I’ve stated my case, which reminds me entirely of the responses the Sex Pistols got when they wore “I Hate Pink Floyd” t-shirts. Part of the reason I feel some people in my generation struggle with The Clash is because they’ve become sacred figures, Mojo reader favourites, and we have utterly different associations to their original set of fans. Even bearing their original impact in mind, however, there were plenty of more challenging, interesting punk bands to get behind at the time than this lot, who really were just the rockist’s choice. To me, they’re just a puzzlement, another case of the general public siding with the mediocre option.

    Oh, and “Top of the Pops”? There’s a common theory that The Clash failed to embrace television for the pure and simple reason that they came across as berks on the box, and it had nothing whatsoever to do with their desire not to sell out. Had that been a particular issue, they’d never have signed to CBS. I’d better stop. I really could just be here typing all day.

  8. 38
    Izzy on 29 Mar 2011 #

    That ‘whom’ is grammatically correct, no? The person ‘I’m supposed to be’ isn’t doing anything, so it’s ‘whom’ not ‘who’. Your assumption that it’s short for ‘who am’ is not, I think, correct.

    (Is this the most boring critique of The Clash ever, or what?)

  9. 39
    Tommy Mack on 29 Mar 2011 #

    Re #24: Good call with The Who comparison: both at their best, a mix of power-pop melody and propulsive rock thrust, but both with a fair chunk of shouty, stompy near-misses to their name.

  10. 40
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 29 Mar 2011 #

    No, it can’t be “whom” because the verb “to be” is copulative — it links the subject not with an object but with a predicate, which will share the same case as the subject. As in “Who am I supposed to be?”

  11. 41
    Cumbrian on 29 Mar 2011 #

    #36/#37: In between the third paragraph from Tommy and the penultimate paragraph from 23Daves, there is probably something interesting to be said about quite how bands (and perhaps this band in particular) inspire such a polar opposite reaction from some sections of music lovers.

    But I’m half way through my third beer and England are playing a relatively interesting game of football against Ghana (probably because Ghana really want to win and we’ve given a chance to a bunch of players described as second choice but should actually be first choice), so I’m buggered if I can articulate it properly.

  12. 42
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 29 Mar 2011 #

    @40: oops I think I mean the complement shares the same case as the subject — the predicate is a slightly different thing. This is the best Clash discussion I ever had.

  13. 43
    RDMcNamara on 29 Mar 2011 #

    #37 – re. the “Mojo reader” comment.

    Yep, I wonder what the Strummer of ’77 would make of ‘White Riot’ appearing on Total Guitar magazine CDs and the like these days… They’ve certainly got the muso tag hanging around them now, I suppose that is the old “real music” versus “manufactured crap” divide happy to have any one who slings a guitar round their neck into the former camp. Even that needs to be taken with a bit of a pinch of salt give Paul Simonon was given the role in the first place purely because he ‘made the bass look cool’

    In a parallel universe we’d be talking about ‘Complete Control’ at number one. There’s a 10 if ever there was one. Acerbic, funny, spontaneous… One “I don’t trust you/so why do you trust me?” is worth a million ‘Last Gang In Town’ proclamations.

  14. 44
    Cumbrian on 29 Mar 2011 #

    The comments on Complete Control thus far are dead on for me, probably my favourite Clash track and released in the sweet spot between The Clash and Give Em Enough Rope, when they also released White Man In Hammersmith Palais, which I reckon is their high water mark.

    First enjoyable England match in ages – who knew we could have an interesting international football match nowadays?

  15. 45
    Billy Smart on 29 Mar 2011 #

    #43/44 And produced by Lee Scratch Perry, too, the use of space and echo creating a far more convincing Clash-reggae than ‘Police & Thieves’ was.

  16. 46
    Tom on 29 Mar 2011 #

    Plus it always seems that last-gang-in-town-haters are like 17-year-old Tom; uptight, self-righteous Morrissey fans suspicious of anything resembling fun: railing against rock’s blokeyness/revivalism/predictability while secretly, actually hating it’s messiness, momentum and joie-de-vivre: dismissing the like of the Clash as dead and dull and then raving over even more retro, predictable, safe stuff: the (imaginary?) enemy against whom Steven Wells used to rail.

    Haha guilty as charged! (I was a terrible puritan at around this point) BUT remember this is 1991, around the time of “Kill Uncle”, so even the Morrissey fans weren’t Morrissey fans then. If you’d asked me at this point who the most exciting band in the world are I’d have said, without a second’s hesitation, Public Enemy.

    Who, of course, were in rockcrit terms – i.e. the terms I approached them on – the TOTAL 1991 EQUIVALENTS OF THE CLASH except with rather better beats, but they traded on us-against-the-world vibes more than almost anyone (and I doubt any of Strummer’s hangers-on ever said anything as stupid as that Professor Griff quote). Obviously I’d still rather hear “By The Time I Get To Arizona” than anything in the Clash discography but there was a certain hypocrisy involved nonetheless.

    And yes you’re right that a lot of the “last gang in town” irritation comes from the fact that they have ended up being very far from the last.

  17. 47
    Tom on 29 Mar 2011 #

    As for Swells, I doubt that there are many guys who’d have passed one of his purity tests, and I doubt that was the point of them anyway. :) I remember reading them feeling that right was on MY side and not on the side of the Clash-worshipping revivalist false punk boyrockers he rightly loathed: part of his talent was to make you feel, mostly, you were on his side.

  18. 48
    Tom on 29 Mar 2011 #

    (this thread has been great so far by the way – this was one of those posts where I hit publish with a sense of impending doom and I have been very pleasantly proven wrong)

  19. 49
    anto on 29 Mar 2011 #

    By the way can I say how fortunate it was that the young Noel Gallagher wasn’t discouraged by the criticism of his touching poem
    ” She Kissed Like a Hoover “

  20. 50
    thefatgit on 29 Mar 2011 #

    Another thing, SISOSIG represents the kind of laddishness that came to the fore in the 90’s. Something about that decade created a kind of post-feminist backlash, the Loaded culture. The dumb-ass nature of this will get me up on the dancefloor, windmilling like a loon as the double-time kicks in, and that’s what I love about it, but the truth is we’re seeing The Birth Of The 90’s Bloke, rising from the corpse of the 50’s rebel/outlaw. And that makes me feel uncomfortable, because I could so easily become that archetypal binge drinking, free spending, boorish lout at the drop of a hat. The type that Cumbrian describes so eloquently above. James Brown would argue it was Primal Scream’s Loaded, but I’d argue this had The Bloke Factor cranked up to maximum. You can dance with a girl to Loaded, not to this though.

  21. 51
    ace inhibitor on 29 Mar 2011 #

    I don’t like SISOSIG, but to me the Clash’s saving grace was always, precisely, the clunkiness of it all; the slightly ham-fisted reggae on police and thieves, the earnestly political lyrics that didn’t quite scan or rhyme (you have the right! not to be killed! murder is a crime! unless it was done, by a police-mun!), the shoe-horning in of every world musical style they were ever taken by – these are endearing things, to me. Despite the last gang in town stuff, there was little sense of studied hipster sneer that always turned me off the Stones, or the Stone Roses. This was down to Strummer, I would have thought, who always came across in interviews like he didn’t care if he came across like a prat. Which always meant when they did get it right it sounded thrilling because it seemed such a struggle for them to get there.

  22. 52
    hardtogethits on 29 Mar 2011 #

    #40 (and #42) Thanks for the back up!

    #38 Explicitly, I said the line in the song is NOT “Exactly who’m I supposed to be?” and so you are wrong to suggest this was my assumption.

    As for the use of the word “whom”, it is wrong. It would work for me if the song went ungrammatical as the subject passionately began to express himself in the vernacular – no-one minds that kind of thing. However, here he’s unnaturally grammatical, overly-formal and, to cap it all, wrong.

    Equally, if the subject were defined by his odd grammatical style, the “whom” line would fit well in a song which concluded: “Can you please let myself know, Shall I Stay Or Ought I To Go?”

  23. 53
    Cumbrian on 29 Mar 2011 #

    #50: Hmmm. An interesting perspective. The bloke I am describing at #41 could very easily by my father though (a former secondary school teacher, who home brews his own beer, and still unwinds by watching some sport and having a pint or two once or twice a week). It was in fact me I was describing – I have basically allowed myself to accept, bordering on my 30th birthday, that I am turning into my Dad.

    I don’t believe there is anything wrong with this necessarily; the trick is knowing when to switch it off (and my girlfriend is out tonight herself, so watching the game and having a beer after a day in the office was an option). Dad knew/knows when to switch it off – I’ve never seen him pissed in my memory – and I’d like to think that he taught me to behave in a similar way. The real issue for lad culture in the 90s, as far as I can tell, is the brakes coming off, for whatever reason.

    That said, I am also aware that 2 or 3 beers don’t improve my ability to make coherent points, particularly when there is probably a need to be insightful, which is why I backed off the subject I raised in the first paragraph of #41!

  24. 54
    Mark M on 29 Mar 2011 #

    About three years earlier at a very similar educational institution to Tom’s, I was also attacking the bands at my school in print (this time the scrappy weekly newsheet) on the grounds that playing punk rock at this stage in history was about the most reactionary activity possible (and, indeed, citing Public Enemy – along with Pixies, M/A/R/R/S and the Sugarcubes – as what was good out there. Quite how diabolical one of those bands would have been if they’d directly tried to mine those influences doesn’t bear thinking about*).

    I’m ambivalent about The Clash – I hate the last gang nonsense, a lot of the posturing, the production on the first album, the rank idiocy of White Riot, the political incoherence, etc. As discussed here a couple of years ago, Sean Rowley’s starting point for the whole Guilty Pleasures thing was the assumption that The Clash are the core element in anyone’s record collection – I always felt he must’ve known the most diabolically dull people on earth. But I do sort of quite like a number of Clash songs, although I don’t think I’d ever want to hear more than one at a time.

    *That said, a vague long-term acquaintance of mine has had a very successful career whose initial impulse has often been described as colliding all that late ’80s stuff together…)

  25. 55
    heather on 29 Mar 2011 #

    Over-rated band, and a re-release, but it does have a nice bassline.

  26. 56
    Billy Smart on 30 Mar 2011 #

    For your reference, here’s the 1991 Levis commercial;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tBop3IKBdQ

    Its hardly the fridge or the bath, is it? The stop-start riff of ‘Should I Stay’ makes it an especially appealing song to use as a template for edits, though.

  27. 57
    will on 30 Mar 2011 #

    Re 50: Wasn’t it around this time that the same pre-Loaded James Brown put The Clash on the cover of NME with the cover line ‘Still The Greatest Rock N’ Roll Band In The World?’

    Re 30: Cumbrian’s comment about SISOSIG having nothing to do with the music of ’91 – there’s an argument that with this ad Levi’s were actually slightly ahead of the curve. Early ’91 is when the first traces of punk revivalism can be heard across indie land – The Manic Street Preachers had just released Motown Junk, were sporting white stencil-shirts and looking and sounding not like the pre-White Riot Clash.

  28. 58
    swanstep on 30 Mar 2011 #

    Blimey, I don’t get the problems people have with this one (or The Clash more generally) at all. SISOSIG is in the same genre as My Sharona, Wild Thing, Louie Louie, Stepping Stone,… call it ‘dumb rock’. Everyone who’s been in a band has tried to write a dumb rock song, and has duly found out that they’re bloody hard to pull off convincingly. There has to be some special way in which your voices work together and/or some way in which you attack your instruments so that the whole thing ends up sounding fresh and newly explosive rather than plodding. I think the Clash clear the mark nicely here, it’s a fun record and every bit of it from the drums up has great ‘played dumb’ feel to it. The Jeans ad is new to me – that’s a horror I agree. I also agree that it’s generally hard to sort out ones feelings about re-issues or to commensurate their scores with others given, but sub-par scores are just silly:
    7 (8 on the right day)

    @35, hardtogethits. Your objection to the lyric strikes me as poor. All other things being equal, staying is much easier/cheaper than going. The lyric then just says that that’s complicated by a trouble factor, t, that’s doubled in the case of stay.

    aotbecost(stay) << aotbecost(go) You think that it's obvious that aotbecost(stay)+2t > aotbecost(go)+t

    But it isn’t, hence the singer searches for some further information that’ll bound t. Jesus.

  29. 59
    Izzy on 30 Mar 2011 #

    Review and #54: you’ve reminded me that I have my own newsletter review nightmare around this period, but as it concerns a no.1 from later this year I shall keep schtum for now. Clearly something in the water circa 1991 though.

  30. 60
    vic cowling on 30 Mar 2011 #

    #25 mentions Joe Strummer’s show on the World Service, which I did listen to at the time. I’d seen the Clash a handful of times back in Bristol and I was now in Savannakhet, Lao PDR. I sent Joe a fax (it was ’98 or ’99) saying who’d have thought back in ’77 that he and I would now be doing what we were doing & asking him a few questions and suggesting a few discs to play. I got a hand written fax back from the man, with careful answers to my questions, and comments on the discs I suggested e.g. that he always put Yeh Yeh by Georgie Fame on the jukebox and so on. I was mighty pleased with that and agree that he seemed a very decent bloke

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