Top 5 songs: The Clash edition

Like many of you, I am a big fan of the Best Singles series of posts here at Kulturblog. However, some bands have so many good songs that it seems a shame to have to pick just one. So in this post I thought we could mix that Best Singles series with the old Top 5 series Rusty used to run and list the top 5 songs from some great bands. In the comments you can list your top 5 favorite song in countdown order and include your reasons for liking the songs as well as the reasons for the order your chose. Also, if a link to the song is available please include that as well so we can all listen (if it hasn’t been linked to already). Last, if you can’t think of 5 songs for your list feel free to just count down your top 3 or whatever.

First band up: The Clash

Here are my top 5:

#5 — I Fought The Law.
This was my toughest choice — mostly because choosing it meant a lot of songs didn’t make the cut at all. It is a cover, but a cover done right. That means it is different than the original but not worse.



#4 — Lost in the Supermarket
I love this song. Not really very punk rock at all but a great melody that shows off the superb musicianship of The Clash.

#3 — Rock the Casbah
This is one of those songs that actually deserved to be a big hit.

#2 — Clampdown
I never tire of Clampdown. “Hot Longy Long!”

#1 — Train in Vain
This one belongs in the pantheon of best rock songs of all time in my opinion.

What you got?

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17 thoughts on “Top 5 songs: The Clash edition

  1. I was never very into the Clash and don’t think I’ve even heard a few of these, so I’m hoping I can check them out soon (can’t right now). My fave would have to be Rock the Casbah, of the ones I can think of.

  2. I am surprised to hear you aren’t a Clash aficionado Susan. I suspect you will recognize my top five when you hear them though (even if you don’t recognize the titles).

  3. I was never a huge Clash fan. I doubt I could go any farther than “Rock the Casbah.” Listening to your five tracks, I find it hard to believe they were considered a punk band. Based on these songs (excepting “Rock the Casbah,” which is essentially a disco song), they’re closer to Bruce Springsteen than The Ramones or The Saints.

    Of course, I was never a Springsteen fan and I’ve recently come around on him, so maybe it’s time to give The Clash another chance. What’s a good starting point in their discography?

  4. Second 5:

    Should I Stay Or Should I Go
    Police on My Back
    Bank Robber
    Somebody Got Murdered
    Lost in the Supermarket

    5. I Fought the Law
    The studio version has one of the best intros in the history of rock. And anyone who doesn’t at least wish they could play guitar when they hear this song has no rock in their soul.
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBeT4ptY9sY&fs=1&hl=en_US%5D

    4. Rock the Casbah

    3. Know Your Rights
    Great lyrics, with the perfect music to accompany them. One of the great political rock songs.
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6hxZ8ze-eY&fs=1&hl=en_US%5D

    2. Train in Vain
    Maybe the greatest “You suck for not loving me” song ever.

    1. London Calling
    Apocalyptic desperation.
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfK-WX2pa8c&fs=1&hl=en_US%5D

  5. Brian,

    The Clash actually grew versatile and branched out far beyond punk. If you want to hear some of their earlier purer punks songs, maybe try “White Riot,” “Complete Control,” “I’m So Bored with the USA,” and “Career Opportunities.”

  6. Yeah my top 5 come from later on after the band grew a bit bored with straight punk and started branching out. The very fact that they could pull that off so well is partially why they were some of the best.

  7. I love the original Equals version of “Police On My Back” so much that I can’t really take the Clash’s version seriously.

  8. I’m writing mine before reading everyone else’s.

    5. Lose This Skin. (Sandinista!) The strings and the voice together are wonderful and disturbing. It is on the edge of the band’s experimentation like a lot of the album.
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtWdVX6LS8w&fs=1&hl=en_US%5D

    4. Should I Stay or Should I Go (Combat Rock) I know, it was very commercial and mainstream, but also very catchy. The perfect punk/pop song. (See also X’s cover of Wild Thing.)
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqH21LEmfbQ&fs=1&hl=en_US%5D

    3. Know Your Rights. (Combat Rocks) ‘This is a public service announcement…with guitar BOWM BOWM BOWM.’ What a great opening, and a cheeky approach to serious social criticism.

    2. Clampdown (London Calling). Like the whole album, there is a balance between rawness and good musicianship. ‘Working for the clampdown’ rang like a warning through my formative years.

    1. Career Opportunities (The Clash). One of the great guitar riffs in music, and great lyrics. This song is everything that was great about the early band.
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZOrkPIZ1JU&fs=1&hl=en_US%5D

  9. If you are new to The Clash, start with Combat Rock, go to London Calling and The Clash, then fill in the blanks.

  10. Know your rights is one of the bests political theory songs ever. That mostly just matters to me.

    London Calling is my emotional favorite. I am not a big fan of Rock the Cashbah.

    Brian V, the message is punk.

    Thanks for the post.

  11. I’ve never been much of a Clash fan either. London Calling routinely shows up in best album ever lists – so I find myself trying them again from time to time. So far they just don’t do it for me.

  12. Great post — love the Clash. Could listen to them all day. Can’t quibble with any of the songs listed here.

    My five favorites that haven’t yet gotten enough love:

    Janie Jones
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyoW0tf6N-Q&fs=1&hl=en_US%5D

    I’m So Bored with the USA
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFTEQC7Aq2k&fs=1&hl=en_US%5D

    English Civil War
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzGfsGqSzSE&fs=1&hl=en_US%5D

    White Riot
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2TYKmQc0L4&fs=1&hl=en_US%5D

    Police on My Back
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5extIQ3EXjM&fs=1&hl=en_US%5D

    For good measure, here are five other random favorites that haven’t been mentioned yet:

    Complete Control
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TcKiC2yB0s&fs=1&hl=en_US%5D

    When Ivan Meets GI Joe
    Safe European Home
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IunpUTdLEig&fs=1&hl=en_US%5D

    Rudie Can’t Fail
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xz1Zjaqhu3s&fs=1&hl=en_US%5D

    The Magnificent Seven
    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DsWBXciHcA&fs=1&hl=en_US%5D

  13. OK, I’ve revisited the Clash since I first read this post and have grown into quite a fan. Here, then, are my favorites:

    1. Rock the Casbah
    2. Hitsville UK
    3. Clampdown
    4. Spanish Bombs
    5. Death or Glory

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