Like so many great bands before them, The Clash eventually grew to their own level of stardom that may have unsettled them more than made them happy. Their collection of albums, some of them extraordinarily sized – Sandinista! was 3 LPs BIG – contained many memorable and musically diverse songs. It could even be said that each album was its own repository of hits. Beginning with their debut, which yielded the essential “White Riot,” and “(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais,” on through to their final work, the high-charting Combat Rock (with their widest known hits, “Rock the Casbah,” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” The Clash became a band of interested political and personal rights, speaking for the average man before signing off with less a rough edge and more a refined sound.
This year (2007) marks the 30-year anniversary of the band’s recorded beginnings. Late in 2006, Epic/Legacy collected a batch of 19 singles with their B-sides, following suit with the Rolling Stones’ previously released 3 Box sets of sleeved CD singles replicating the actual releases from their early Abkco periods. The Singles for The Clash is a collectible for Clash fans aside from the usual ‘wrap-‘em-up’ of songs on a CD.
This new release mirrors the A-sides sans the B-sides found on that collectible box set. It also includes the booklet with much of the liner notes and thoughts of various individuals in music as well as photos. Of course, you can get a more complete set with the Essential Clash released earlier, and officially, The Singles was released in an earlier incarnation (2000) with an almost complete track-for-track line-up. Adds to this 2007 set include “This is England” from their 12” of the same name and “Groovy Times” from the band’s 4-song UK EP, Cost of Living (1979). But new remastering (from the earlier box set) makes that a moot point for those that want to update a collection of Clash classics. In addition, that 2000 collection by the same name has been deleted to make room for this update.
This collection also contains two bonus cut that include the “hidden” or unacknowledged LP track from London Calling, “Train in Vain” as well as the previously mentioned “Groovy Times.” We all know and love these songs and so pickup is a personal choice. The Essential Clash is the best way but this certainly works to provide casual fans with just the A-side singles that the band was known for.