Topper Headon - drums; Mick Jones - vocals, guitar; Paul Simonon - bass; Joe Strummer - vocals, guitar
No band embodies all the best aspects of British punk rock better than The Clash: fast and furious songs delivered like machine gun fire - check; politically volatile lyrics -double check; paramilitary-cum-bondage fashion - certainly in the early days; an incorporation of American R&B and Jamaican Dub and Reggae influences - eventually; working class attitude and a predilection for violence - definitely; recklessly fabulous live performances - like none other.
While others were busy nettling the establishment with vulgar behavior and cartoonish personas, The Clash gave the punk movement some focus for all its aggression. Songs like "White Riot" and "London's Burning" explicitly articulated a powerful dissatisfaction with such time-honored English institutions as class distinction and imperialism, creating a vibrant subgenre which continues to thrive 20 years after the band's dissolution.
From the "Pearl Harbor '79" Tour, their first in America, this show is vintage Clash. Guitars rattle and clang and drums and bass pound away in fist-pumping precision as Joe Strummer's slurred holler narrates the revolution. It's short and perfect, the way rock n' roll should be, and the crowd can't get enough.
Though they never achieved the same commercial success in the States that they enjoyed in the U.K., The Clash are probably the most influential punk band of their era. Whether to applaud them or berate them for spawning the likes of Rancid and Green Day is a matter of personal opinion, but their status as the originals is irrefutable. Here is The Clash in their prime.