THE CLASH – White Man (In Hammersmith Palais)

I don’t like the Clash very much. You can probably guess why: Strummer’s prolier-than-thou bark, all that keep-it-real stuff, their very incarnation of the no/sell-out discourse that keeps on keeping music down. And on the most basic level of all, I just don’t think their tunes are very good.

So their best single is infuriatingly naive (“turning rebellion into money”? But that’s all pop music has ever been!), absurdly posturing (“I’m the 3 AM drug-prowling wolf”), hammily unconvincing (Strummer’s instant-cringe laugh after “Burton suits”), and for one verse only completely on point. Strummer’s general irritation at how his band’s been sucked into the fashion churn and looks like being supplanted by the “new groups” suddenly switches to the disgusted realisation that in a world which had toppled authority, fashion infects everything, as simply the only sensible way of doing things. So he writes the most cutting lines of his career – “If Adolf Hitler flew in today / They’d send a limousine anyway” – and of course it doesn’t work. It was the punks who’d started wearing swastikas in ’76, after all.