The Clash – Tommy Gun CBS, CBS S CBS 6788, 6788 1978 UK
I never owned a copy of this as far as I remember, a couple of friends did and I used to play their copy whenever I went around to their house. I remember setting up an elaborate trade with one friend, some of my singles for some of theirs and this was in the ones I would be getting as part of the trade but, despite spending hours discussing it, somehow valuing things in fractions with this being worth 1.5 of whatever I was offering, or something like that, the trade never actually happened.
Although I didn’t listen to it very much, the B-side is pretty decent too.
Back in 1981 the now defunct weekly music paper, Sounds, published an All-Time Punk Top 100 which I have recreated for you below using Spotify. If you play song 1 (which is 100 in the list it will play up to 100, which is number 1 on the list. A countdown is always better than a count up I think.
I think its fair to say that whoever compiled this Top 100 was rather fond of The Exploited as they appear 9 times but what it does show is that when the poll is created has a big effect on what appears in that poll. In the case of this one there is a glaring omission, well several, but the biggest must be the absence of The Ramones. That’s the thing with then and now, then there wasn’t access to everything and as we had plenty of home grown punk music to listen to why go further afield? To be fair though, there isn’t any Buzzcocks either, or X-Ray Spex so its difficult to see what criteria was being used but I would suggest that time is a big factor as we look back on that period some songs remain fixed in the memory and others have faded. This is demonstrated by Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, once considered the best album ever made but as each year goes by it slips further and further down those charts and is often overtaken by Revolver, which I agree with, it’s probably my favourite Beatles album.
If I was compiling my own list it would be very different, but I wouldn’t have remembered the Anti-Nowhere League and I should (they did a great ‘Streets Of London, I’ll put it at the end of this post).
I was not really a punk at all at the time, I was too young really, but I did listen to a lot of these tracks and still have some of them. At some point I’ll find a more recent top 100, there’s bound to be one out there, and put it here for comparison.
Actually, here’s So What as well, which comes with a warning, the lyrics are appalling and hilarious in equal measure, move on if easily offended:
My current obsession is with Trojan records and I have, despite knowing it is a terrible idea that will only lead to disappointment for me and pain for my wallet, begun looking for some of the early releases that are really rather difficult to find nowadays. I have made my first purchase, which is currently in tranist so I haven’t received it yet, and it is by Owen Gray, the 1969 album Reggae With Soul. The copy I bought is 48 years old so I have my doubts about how well it will play but the seller listed the vinyl as excellent so there’s hope. It normally sells for about £35 but my copy was £10, which is why I have some doubts but can’t really pre-judge.
Just look at that cover, it is filled with happy. Owen Gray is one of Jamaica’s ‘Foundation’ singers whose work spans the R&B, ska, rocksteady, and reggae eras of Jamaican music, and he has been credited as Jamaica’s first home-grown singing star.
Gray won his first talent contest at the age of nine, and by the age of twelve he was already appearing in public, playing drums, guitar, and keyboards. He attended the Alpha Boys School and turned professional aged 19. Gray was a dynamic performer on stage, who could be gritty or suave as the song dictated. He was the first singer (of many) to praise a sound system on record, with his “On the Beach” celebrating Clement Dodd’s Sir Coxsone Downbeat system in 1959, one of the first releases on Dodd’s Studio One label. He was one of the first artists to be produced by Chris Blackwell, in 1960, and his “Patricia” single was the first record ever released by Island Records. His first single, “Please Let Me Go”, reached the top of the charts in Jamaica, and featured a guitar solo from Australian musician Dennis Sindrey who was a member of The Caribs, a studio band that played on many early Owen Gray recordings. The single also sold well in the United Kingdom, as did subsequent releases, prompting Gray to emigrate there in 1962. He toured Europe in 1964, and by 1966 he was well known as a soul singer as well as for his ska songs. During 1966, he worked in the UK and Europe with The Krew, then in 1967 with Tony Knights Chessmen. In the rocksteady era, he recorded for producer Sir Clancy Collins. His popularity continued throughout the 1960s, working with producers such as Clement Dodd, Prince Buster, Arthur “Duke” Reid, Leslie Kong, and Clancy Eccles, including work as a duo with Millie Small, with songs ranging from ska to ballads. He continued to record regularly, having a big hit in 1968 with “Cupid”. His 1970 track “Apollo 12” found favour with the early skinheads, and in 1972 he returned to Island Records, recording reggae versions of The Rolling Stones’ “Tumblin’ Dice” and John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy”, although they met with little success.
During this period, he regularly had releases on Pama and sister label, Camel Records, and one single on Hot Lead Records. He had greater success in Jamaica, however, with “Hail the Man”, a tribute to Emperor Haile Selassie, which was popular with the increasing Rastafari following. Gray spent a short time living in New Orleans before returning to Jamaica where he turned his hand to roots reggae, working with producer Bunny Lee, and achieving considerable success. In the 1980s relocated to Miami. He has continued to release new material regularly, often concentrating on ballads and Gospel music.
It’s surprising how far back I’ve been listening to some of the songs that were originally released in the late 60’s and early 70’s. There’s a load that I first heard by The Specials, here’s a list:
Gangsters (an interpretation of): Al Capone – Prince Buster
A Message To You Rudy – Dandy Livingstone
Too Much Too Young (an interpretation of): Birth Control – Lloyd Charmers
Guns of Navarone – The Skatalites
Longshot Kick De Bucket – The Pioneers
Liquidator – Harry J Allstars
Skinhead Moonstomp – Symarip
Rude Buoys Outa Jail (an interpretation of): Rude Boy Gone A Jail – Desmond Baker & The Clarendonians
Do The Dog (an interpretation of): The Dog – Rufus Thomas
Too Hot – Prince Buster
Monkey Man – Toots & The Maytals
Stupid Marriage (an interpretation of): Judge Dread – Prince Buster
You’re Wondering Now – Andy and Joey
Enjoy Yourself – Prince Buster
Sock It To ‘Em JB – Rex Garvin and The Mighty Cravers
Then there are the Prince Buster tracks covered by Madness, The Prince which is an interpretation of Earthquake, Madness and One Step Beyond. There are covers by The Selecter, The Bodysnatchers and The Beat, but at the time I, and many others, had no idea these were other peoples songs.
Some of the songs I remember from when they were originally released, Everything I Own by Ken Booth for example, lots of Jimmy Cliff and things like Anthea & Donna Uptown Top Ranking, which was considered a bit of a novelty by many when it was released, myself included, but damn it was catchy and ting. There’s Wonderful World, Beautiful People by Jimmy Cliff, I remember that and I’ve convinced myself I heard Young Gifted & Black by Bob & Marcia at some point.
There was Israelites by Desmond Dekker and The Aces which I first remember hearing when being used for a Maxell Tapes advert in the early eighties, where they took the mickey out of the lyrics, I just looked for it, this is it:
Get up in the morning, slaving for bread, sir So that every mouth can be fed Poor me Israelites, ah
Just because I’m on the subject, the one where they used Into The Valley by The Skids was pretty funny, “There’s masses of Lamb”:
This all started again when I bought a used copy of The Harder They Come soundtrack by Jimmy Cliff, having liked it so much I started looking out for more in the same genre, a potential mistake as there is just so much to go at, so this needs a structured approach to avoid having to re-mortgage the house.
The fairly new music magazine Long Live Vinyl has a section in this months issue which is the 50 best Trojan Records releases, so that has now become my list, not that I expect to find all of them, but it is a decent steer as to where to begin.
I’m not going to list all 50, that is what the magazine is for but I will list out what my initial targets are along with the expected cost of an original and whether there is a re-issue available as Trojan have been through a re-issue program to celebrate their 50th anniversary. There was one bit of the accompanying article that I found quite interesting which was how quick the turnaround of the original 45’s was. Trojan is a British label and in the early days they would be down the local London market stalls listening out for whatever was new from Jamaica, the tracks that people were talking about from the previous weekend, and would press a couple of hundred of them within a week and then distribute them by hand before doing the whole thing again. I think this was when they were still Island Records, which Trojan was born from. Anyway, that list:
The Pioneers – Long Shot (1969) Original £35, Re-issue £20
Jimmy Cliff – Jimmy Cliff (1969) £20/£18
Desmond Dekkar – This is Desmond Dekkar (1969) £30/£20
Rico & The Rudies – Blow Your Horn (1969) £35/£20
The Ethiopians – Reggae Power (1969) £40/No Re-Issue
John Holt – 1000 Volts of Holt (1973) £20/£12
Ken Boothe – Everything I Own (1974) £20/£18
So that’s the starting point. There are many others which I will still be looking out for but that is looking like £150 right there, one has to at least give the impression of being sensible, right?
Featuring session from The Damned and Fingerprintz.
J. Geils Band – Wild Man (EMI America)
Fingerprintz – Who’s Your Friend (Session)
Squeeze – Cat On A Wall (Deptford Fun City)
Spizz Oil – 6000 Crazy (Rough Trade)
Sly Dunbar And The Revolutionaries – Mr Bassie (Virgin)
Bob Dylan – Changing Of The Guards (Columbia)
Weirdos – We Got the Neutron Bomb (Dangerhouse)
Residents – Lizard Lady (Ralph)
Joe Cocker – A Whiter Shade Of Pale (Asylum)
The Damned – I’m A Burglar (Session)
Fingerprintz – Sean’s New Shoes (Session)
Johnny G – Highway Shoes (Beggars Banquet)
Medicine Head – Walkin’ Blues (Dandelion)
The Clash – All The Young Punks (CBS)
Television Personalities – Part-Time Punks (King’s Road)
The Damned – Love Song (Session)
The Shadows – Brother Noah (Black Art)
Gary Moore – Fanatical Fascists (MCA)
Chi-Pig – Ring Around The Collar (Chi Pig Records)
Fingerprintz – Nervz (Session)
Fingerprintz – Sync Unit (Session)
Dr Feelgood – Milk And Alcohol (Stiff)
Wire – Outdoor Miner (Harvest)
Edge – I’m Cold (Albion)
Mauro Pagani – La Città Aromatica (Ascolto)
And another John Peel show. Variable audio quality but listenable.
Featuring sessions from Misty and Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft
The Clash – Clampdown (CBS)
The Clash – Guns Of Brixton (CBS)
The Yachts – Now I’m Spoken For (Radar)
Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft – Was Ist Ein Welle? (Session)
Misty – Judgement Coming On The Land (Session)
Adam and the Ants – Day I Met God (Do It)
The Beat – Tears Of A Clown (Two-Tone)
Public Image Ltd – Bad Baby (Virgin)
Preachers – Who Do You Love (BFD)
Secret Affair – New Dance (I-Spy)
Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Dance Stance (Oddball)
Mikey Dread – Comic Strip (Cruise)
Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft – I And I Reality (Session)
Speedballs – Is Somebody There (No Pap)
Suicide – Dream Baby Dream (Island)
The Undertones – Billy’s Third (Sire)
The Fall – Before The Moon Falls (Step Forward)
Buzzards – British Justice (Chrysalis)
Misty – True Rasta Man (Session)
The Specials – Concrete Jungle (2Tone)
Bob Marley And The Wailers (Concrete Jungle)
Simple Minds – Carnival [Shelter In A Suitcase] (Arista)
The Raincoats – Adventures Close To Home (Rough Trade)
Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft – Violence (Session)
The Passions – Oh No It’s You (Fiction)
The Skids – Working For The Yankee Dollar (Virgin)
The Pop Group – We Are All Prostitutes (Rough Trade)
Misty – Sodom And Gomorrah (Session)
Snakefinger – Here Comes The Bums (Virgin)
The Clash – Hateful (CBS)
Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft – Kebab Dreams (Session)
Mekons – Dan Dare (Virgin)
Boys – See Ya Later (Safari)
A mixed bag so far this week, and they weren’t neccesarily in this order, but these are they:
The Clash – Sandinista
Steely Dan – The Royal Scam
Carmel – The Drum Is Everything
The Future Sound Of London – Environments 6
The Stranglers – No More Heroes
Electric Light Orchestra – Out Of The Blue
Stanley Clarke – Rocks, Pebbles and Sand
Roger Goula – Overview Effect