The Clash's Joe Strummer Cuts the 'Crap' for Swan Song -- Twisted Tales
By the time of the Clash's last album, released in 1985, the great political punk band had been in shambles for three years. The title of the album, chosen at the last minute by manager Bernie Rhodes, was probably the best thing about the group's messy farewell. It was called 'Cut the Crap.'
Three years earlier, the Clash was preparing for the release of its fifth studio album, 'Combat Rock.' On the heels of the band's classic double album, 'London Calling,' and its chaotic follow-up, the three-LP outburst 'Sandinista!,' the band was exhausted, both creatively and physically. Though 'Combat Rock' would produce the hits 'Rock the Casbah' and 'Should I Stay or Should I Go,' it was padded with what some considered substandard material.
Listen to the Clash's 'This Is England'
The band members were cranky, too, and with punk on the wane, ticket sales for their UK tour were slow. Rhodes, the impresario who had worked with Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, quietly suggested that frontman Joe Strummer go AWOL. The press, he believed, would jump on the story of the missing rocker.
"Joe's personal conflict is, where does the socially concerned rock artist stand in the bubblegum environment of today?" Rhodes told the NME when the tour's opening dates were postponed. "I feel he's probably gone away for a serious rethink."
In fact, Rhodes had suggested that Strummer slip off to Austin, Texas, to stay with his friend Joe Ely, the rootsy songwriter who sang on 'Should I Stay or Should I Go.' But Strummer crossed up his scheming manager, heading instead for Paris. The music papers reported