Sharoma The Clash The Rat Patrol

The Rat Patrol

This is the original version of 'Combat Rock' as produced by Mick Jones in 1981, with newly discovered instrumental track titled 'Walk Evil Talk'. Overpowered By Funk is not present here and was apparently added to Combat Rock at the last minute (an instrumental version exists on Clash On Broadway Outtakes and an extended remix is on Golden Bullets). Two more Combat Rock era tracks can be found on DOA (a superior version of Cool Confusion and an alternate version of Know Your Rights).

Track listing

  1. The Beautiful People Are Ugly Too
  2. Kill Time
  3. Should I Stay Or Should I Go
  4. Rock The Casbah
  5. Know Your Rights
  6. Red Angel Dragnet
  7. Ghetto Defendant
  8. Sean Flynn
  9. Car Jamming
  10. Inoculated City
  11. Death Is A Star
  12. Walk Evil Talk
  13. Atom Tan [edit]
  14. Inoculated City (Uncensored 'Combat Rock' version)
  15. First Night Back In London [edit]
  16. Cool Confusion [edit]
  17. Straight To Hell [Broadway version]

Review

First off, enormous thanks from myself and the rest of the Clash loving community to Bill Plenge, aka the Equaliser, for getting this item into circulation. Without doubt, it is the best Clash find of recent years. Essentially an upgrade for Combat Out Rock, this comes from a much cleaner source, apparently a cassette tape that was floating around an RCA office back in the early 1980s. Needless to say, it is a joy to listen to. The opening two numbers sounding superb and the quality of these two in particular is an excellent step up from the previous version. So much so, that if you are curious about the lyrics to these songs, or you're just after a laugh, you should check a dubious attempt to transcribe them by myself, Inder and John:

The quality in general is an improvement for every track on Combat Out Rock, with the first two being the most noticeable. A few of the songs sound as they did in the previous collection but I think on the whole the sound quality is a lot better. You can certainly hear more instrumentation and even extra vocals in parts. The versions are the same, with the exception of the extra track Walk Evil Talk, and the extra version of Inoculated City, and also the Atom Tan incident.

So what of this new song? You're probably dying to hear it if you haven't already. Apparently a leftover from the Sandinista! sessions (you'd never guess that huh?) it's an ambling seven minute affair much in the style of other dub induced classics such as Shepherds Delight and If Music Could Talk. It has a more up tempo style, with piano, and at times sounds like the soundtrack to a western. It's percussion led, leading me to suspect Mick and Topper were in the studio jamming when it came about. The song threatens and threatens to get going with bursts of drumming from Topper (by the way it has been confirmed that Tops is the drummer on this CD). Aside from some excellent drumming (the sound quality really shows it off) there's just the piano, so the song doesn't suffocate you with sound like some instrumentals can. The song reminds me a bit of 'Trojans', an instrumental by The Damned that appeard on Phantasmagoria, though that suffered from added saxophone. Thankfully, there's nothing to muddy the mix in Walk Evil Talk. A very moody song, the music speaks for itself. On the whole, I'd say it's very good. As for its origins, I doubt it's an offspring of the Sandinista! sessions. Its sound is in keeping with the rest of the album. It fits very well here. As mentioned in the Combat Out Rock review, they wanted the album to fit on two sides of vinyl, not four. So there was obviously no room for an apparently aimless 7 minute instrumental.

The Atom Tan edit suffers a dip in quality nearing the two minute mark, with the left channel seeming to drop out a bit. It picks up after 30 seconds or so as the song dies away. Perhaps the Inoculated City debacle needs some explaining. It all relates to a lesser known advert known as the "2000 Flushes" commerical. Where better to seek explanation than Satch's boards? Adam Headland explains:

"2000 Flushes was something you put in your toilet to ostensibly keep it clean. The ad clip was actually on the first released copies of Combat Rock, but the company threatened legal action, so they had to remove it. I guess they figured being associated with the Clash would 'soil' their image!"

...Ludwig adds:

"Actually, I think 2000 flushes is also on the LAST editions of Combat Rock ... on mine it is ... I always thought it was a kind of news report ... but I prefer the version without it that I had encoded first from the Mediatheque."

Adam:

"It was on the very first releases, taken off for the remainder of the LPs, and restored on the reissues- I guess the 2000 Flushes company was no longer a going concern by then."

Personally, I have Combat Rock LP from 1982 and the commercial excerpt is on it. I then noticed it wasn't on the 1986 CD reissue. Now of course it's back on the remasters thankfully. Anyway, the extended version has it. By the way, my review of COR has a more detailed song-by-song analysis.

Back to the review. Cool Confusion (not the version with the drums which you can find on Adam's superb DOA) seems to me to be the best version of the non-drum versions. Even superior to the Super Black Market Clash mix. I'm a fan of this song, so all you Cool Confusion haters can go take a running jump ;-)

As I stated in the COR review, the extended intro to Sean Flynn is the spookiest bit of playing you'll ever hear. Sheer class. This album is certainly superior to Combat Rock. Far more interesting and diverse, and the improved sound quality makes it a must-have item for any Clash fan. A great listen, and the first two tracks are unreleased gems.

Rated: 9 / 10

Extra

Many thanks to Sukwoon Noh for not only mailing me a copy of this promptly, but also burning it with CD TEXT.

A Customs Adventure

Do we have a Clash fan at Her Majesty's Customs and Excise?