We’ve spent this week commemorating 30 years of The Clash. We started with their best cover songs [here], moved to their best solo projects [here], and then started our “top 20” Greatest of All Tunes celebration of the band with #20-11 [here].
Now, the end.
THE BERKELEY PLACE TOP 10 CLASH SONGS OF ALL TIME
10. Janie Jones (The Clash, 1977)
A song about a London madam-turned-pop-singer.
Further listening: The Prisoner ((White Man) in Hammersmith Palais Single, 1978)
9. Train in Vain (London Calling, 1979)
Easily the most pure pop song by the band—and it’s most infectious—Train in Vain is a “hidden track” on The Clash’s greatest album, but it’s only hidden because they jammed it in at the last minute, after the album cover was already printed. It hit #23 on the charts.
The star of this song is Topper Headon, whose drumming on this tune is legendary. It’s all live, no machines, no overdubs.
Further listening: There’s nothing as purely pop in the band’s catalog. Nothing even close.
8. The Clampdown (London Calling, 1979)
A song about labor unions. Gaslight Anthem has a tribute song to Joe Strummer titled, “I’d Have Called You Woody, Joe,” that makes me think about this song.
Further listening: Cheat (The Clash, 1977), one of my favorite pop-punk tunes.
7. Lost in the Supermarket (London Calling, 1979)
One of the best songs about living in the suburbs, and the obvious origin story of neopunkers like Blink 182 and Green Day.
Further listening: Robber Dub (Black Market Clash, 1980)
Covers: The Afghan Whigs version, which also includes parts of Train in Vain and Ben E. King’s Stand By Me, is my personal favorite.
6. Spanish Bombs (London Calling,1979)
This is an example of a “beautiful” Clash song. Most of their tunes are snarling fits of rage, but ironically, this song—about a Spanish rebel group’s fight against a fascist regime of the 1930s—could easily be a sweet love song. Until you hear the lyrics: “Fredrico Lorca is dead and gone, bullet holes in the cemetery walls…” Nobody writes songs like this. Nobody. And Stummer and Jones’ shared vocal leads bring out a sense of harmony, togetherness, in honor of a group of men who died in the name of freedom.
Further listening: This is another example of a Clash song that is completely unique—there’s nothing else like it in their catalog.
The top five are coming next!