Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Clash: The Clash [Epic, 1979]
Cut for cut, this may be the greatest rock and roll album (plus limited-edition bonus single) ever manufactured in the U.S. It offers ten of the fourteen titles on the band's British debut as well as seven of the thirteen available only on forty-five. And the sequencing is anything but haphazard; the eight songs on side one divide into self-contained pairs that function as extended oxymorons on careerism, corporate power, race, and anomie. Yet the package feels misbegotten. The U.K. version of The Clash is the greatest rock and roll album ever manufactured anywhere partly because its innocence is of a piece--it never stops snarling, it's always threatening to blow up in your face. I'm still mad the real thing wasn't released two years ago, and I know for certain (I made a tape) that the singles would have made a dandy album by themselves. Nevertheless, a great introduction and a hell of a bargain. A