"It Ain't Coca-Cola, it's Rice": The Clash's Combat Rock
Combat Rock continued some of this experimentation, also flirting with world music and purer pop forms. It, too, had originally been intended as a double album, Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg, with the band's own Mick Jones mixing and producing. Glyn Johns' final production played an important role in helping the album become a monster seller. Cutting down the track list also probably played a part, yet the good songs that have been ringing in our ears for thirty years must be considered.
The singles are catchy and undeniably joyous, but the Clash are still wearing their politics on their sleeves, becoming more focused and knowledgeable about the issues they address. "Rock the Casbah" and Mick Jones' "Should I Stay or Should I Go" are two of the best and strangest hit singles of the decade. Joe Strummer's trilling and interesting pronunciations couple nicely with Jones' lighter vocals, especially on the "Should I Stay" with Strummer's Spanish backing vocals.
The album is sometimes a mixed bag because of its experimental and freewheeling nature. Most albums that have sold as well are not so scattered. Combat Rock is still an extraordinary record from a cultural and a musical standpoint. The Clash anticipate many later trends in music, but sometimes the album falls flat because of political weight, or failed attempts at trying new styles. Usually it is successful. Standout tracks include the overtly political "Straight To Hell," with its references to American pop culture and examination of American ideals through the eyes of Amerasian children in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, (Later it was sampled in M.I.A's less successful, at least from a political standpoint, "Paper Planes" alongside Wreckx-N-Effect's "Rumpshaker"), the reggae-inflected "Car Jamming," the funky "Overpowered by Funk," and "Ghetto Defendant," which includes a spoken word section by beat icon, Allen Ginsberg.