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Friday Flashback: The Clash - Police and Thieves

Friday Flashback: The Clash - Police and Thieves

Friday 1st June, 2012 1:14PM

Rip It Up Magazine have reached another impressive milestone this year, turning 35 years old. To celebrate this mighty achievement a  special birthday edition of the magazine hits the shelves on Monday.  In honour of this we asked editor Leonie Hayden to pick our Friday Flashback today and share her thoughts on the occasion and the song she chose...

Rip It Up has been kicking around for 35 years this month. The mag was launched during one of those crossover periods in music, the late '70s, where the pomposity of some of the bigger rock behemoths like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, and glam rock in the UK, started to give way to punk and new wave. This is the sound Rip It Up was created to champion.

The obvious choice for our Friday Flashback would be Orange Juice's 'Rip It Up' which is an excellent jam, but despite popular belief (including my own until recently) that song isn't actually Rip It Up's namesake as it was released some five years after the magazine was launched. Which just goes to show how forward thinking Murray Cammick really was.

So instead I'm going with one of my favourites from the year 1977 – another debut, from the self-titled album by The Clash.

'Police And Thieves' is their cover of a Junior Murvin song, quite a gentle reggae tune released only a year before, and it's the album's closer. They've taken what is essentially a peaceful protest and turned it into a snarling condemnation – not to mention introducing music from the West Indies to an entirely new culture. I really like how Joe Strummer spits out the words, "the next generation" as if he's aware of exactly what grown ups think of him and his ilk and doesn't give a toss.

The Clash have been personal heroes of mine since high school thanks to a bunch of likely lads I used to knock around with (and still do). Seeing Joe Strummer front and centre and in the flesh at Big Day Out was my number one BDO moment. He's the yardstick against which I judge all frontmen in rock bands in terms of credibility and raw not-giving-a-fuck-ness. I'll admit he was a bit of a babe too. To my mind, The Clash are the perfect rock band.

Here's a typically sweaty performance of the tune...

And the album version...


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