The CLASH – ” Straight To Hell “

Posted: September 24, 2022 in MUSIC

The Clash follow up too “Rock The Casbah” with another single featuring a pair of songs from their “Combat Rock” album. The two that made the cut this time are “Straight To Hell” on the ‘A’ side and “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” on the flip. They’ve got a special deal going where early purchasers will get a free sticker with the single and a free stencil with every 12″ disc. 

One would wager that ‘Straight to Hell’ is the densest song that Strummer ever penned. It was written during the end of the recording sessions for “Combat Rock”during a “mad, creative rush” the day before the band were due to fly out of the city for New Year’s Eve. In 1991, Strummer reflected on the writing process: “I’d written the lyric staying up all night at the Iroquois Hotel. I went down to Electric Lady and I just put the vocal down on tape, we finished about twenty to midnight. We took the E train from the Village up to Times Square. I’ll never forget coming out of the subway exit, just before midnight, into a hundred billion people, and I knew we had just done something really great.”

The music is nothing short of iconic, with its catchy Bossa Nova style. However, the lyrics are what really marks it out as special. Decrying global injustices, each verse takes to discussing the ills of the day. The first verse refers to Margaret Thatcher’s closure of the steel mills in Northern England, which were once the community’s central hub, which loom as a constant reminder of what was. It also talks of the subsequent mass unemployment which has continued to span generations right up until the present.

Although historical hindsight will prove that the public thought different, NME’s Adrian Thrill wrote that the song, “Straight To Hell” is the finest thing that The Clash have recorded since the ‘Magnificent Seven’ two years ago… Though it could well be the other side – the rambling Stonesy ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go,’ that will pick up most of the airplay.” Looking back he referred to The Clash’s last hit “Rock The Casbah” as “abysmal.”

Joe Strummer was nothing short of an icon. The Clash’s frontman was a character who existed in his own individual realm. A champion of social issues, he penned some of the finest protest and punk songs in existence. He followed up his on-stage persona with a burning personal crusade to do his bit in helping to cure the planet of its social, political and environmental ills.

For the US market, the single was flipped with the non-LP track “Cool Confusion,” and is packaged in a unique sleeve. The song does reasonably well in England, going up the charts to #17. It only made it up to #45 on the American charts, even though it’s remembered as one of the band’s biggest hits this side of the Atlantic.

Strangely enough, the song would be re-released in 1991 in England and go all the way to #1 the second time around.”

‘Straight to Hell’ is not only an iconic piece of music, but it is also one of The Clash‘s most emotionally affecting. When you dig into its meaning, its density is nothing short of astonishing. It is a fantastic reminder of Joe Strummer’s temperament, and that sadly, when he died, the world lost one of its most extraordinary characters. Luckily for us though, he lives on through his musical work and all the discourse surrounding his remarkable life. 

Released “September 24th, 1982

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