The Clash had a ridiculously great run; few bands have ever strung together four consecutive albums as fiery and purposeful and great as those first four Clash records. But when they fell off, they fell off. The Clash recorded their final album, 1985’s Cut The Crap, after co-leader Mick Jones had left the band, and pretty much every Clash fan barely acknowledges its existence. But Cut The Crap did have one strong song: An apocalyptic, synth-laced skank called “This Is England.”
Strummer himself called “This Is England” his “last great Clash song.” And it dates a little further back than Cut The Crap. Strummer, along with longtime Clash bassist Paul Simonon and post-Topper Headon drummer Pete Howard, recorded a demo for “This Is England” in 1983. Back them it was called “Czechoslovak Song / Where is England,” and it had a nastier, more spartan edge. It’s never been released until now.
Later this week will see the release of Joe Strummer 001, a posthumous collection of Strummer’s unheard non-Clash recordings, dating back to his time with the pre-Clash pub-rock band the 101ers. One of the songs on the set is that “This Is England” demo, and you can hear it, along with the version of “This Is England” that appeared on Cut The Crap, below.
Joe Strummer 001 is out 9/28 on Ignition Records.