“Complete Control”

THE CLASH – “Complete Control” / “City Of The Dead” (CBS 5664) September 1977

The Clash “Complete Control” – They have famed JA studio hotshot Lee Perry producing their single. Now live, The Clash are OK, the filthy rough edge of Strummer’s coarse vocal and lumbering instrumentals communicate fine.

On the other gland, as recording stars they are the most overrated band in Britain. The album pretty much stunk except for ‘Police and Thieves’ and ‘Janie Jones’, ‘Complete Control’ rates as the worst thing they’ve ever done – typically indistinguishable lyrics, standard, gutless guitar solo. (Record Mirror, 24/09/77)

Groups sing about being in groups at their peril – and yet, given that their tussling with CBS was the punk jihad in microcosm, The Clash made a virtue of it.

‘Complete Control’ is a counterblast to the unauthorised May ’77 release of ‘Remote Control’. It was released just as punk began to morph into New Wave and the dream of emancipation died.

Thanks to Perry’s echo-laden production, it oozes all the drama of a news bulletin. (Mojo)

“I don’t trust YEW! Why do YEW trust ME? Huuuhhh?” scratch City Rocker benefiting immeasurably from Lee Perry’s J.A. connection, The Upsetter sharing production credits with the Boy Wonder Producer Mickey Foote, sound-scourge of the studio / workshop Rehearsals, Rehearsals.

The allegiance was forged when Lee Perry spent some time in the studio with the Clash a few weeks back – mutual respect blossoming when he heard the band’s worthy version of the Perry / Junior Murvin classic ‘Police And Thieves’.

It’s a protest song, of course, concerning the friction between punks and business men after they’ve legally agreed to use each other. High Finance Capitalism opens its jaws to feed and if you think it wants to kiss you on the mouth you run the risk of getting chewed and swallowed.

Clipped chord-change dynamics open the song, redolent of ‘Pretty Vacant’ and the best of their album’s material, and Joe snarls the story of The Single That Should Have Been.

“They said that, ‘It’s Remote Control’
We didn’t want it on the lay-hey-bel!”

Nemesis for making The Sound Of The Westway blush with humiliation, People LAAAAARFED! The Press went MAAAAAD!

On the road hassled at every Holiday Inn where they found shelter, a weak album track was pushed out by CBS for product to follow-up the ‘White Riot’ single. “Oooooo-oooh, someone’s REALLY SMART, ‘Complete Control’, you just had to LAAARF!”

There’s stunning plectrum fluidity by Mick Jones, and Joe flexing his sense of humour / sharing a tender moment with the guitarist as he shouts out, “You’re MY guitar-hero!” But the solo’s too Lofgren-length for comfort – put it down to a Poodle-Cut. A barricade of sound assaults the record company offices. The rivvum section of Topper and Paul are offbeat and in their element.

“They said we’d be artistically free,
That was just a bit of paper, they meant,

There’s a quasi-Jon Landau sense of The Epic to the climax of the tirade, the harmonies still terraces-derived, but far off and spiritual, like those New York Dolls ripped off The Herd’s ‘From The Underworld’ hit single for their own ‘trash’.

This is The Punk Rockers!”

Even paranoids got enemies.

(NME, 24/09/77)

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