A dubby deep cut from The Clash reverberates 30 years later
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In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing.
Ever get a song stuck in your head for days, but can’t remember exactly what it is? I got the bottomless dubby bass line of the very minor Clash song “First Night Back In London” lodged in my skull while on vacation somewhere with very spotty Internet, so I just went around for a couple of days singing it and driving myself crazy. I pretty quickly realized that it was a Clash song, and I was fairly certain it was from the excellent Super Black Market Clash compilation—which gathers 21 rarities, mostly B-sides, from the band’s career. I had to flip through the first few seconds of each track on the disc before I found it, and then it clicked.
“First Night Back In London” is a broody number that was recorded in a mobile studio around the time of the Combat Rock sessions, and it’s nowhere near as catchy as pretty much anything on that album. It fits nicely on the sprawling Super Black Market Clash, though, which runs the gamut from killer straightforward punk rockers like “1977” to dubby experiments like “Robber Dub” and this one. It’s not among the top 30 or maybe even top 50 Clash songs, but it’s still damn great—which says something about the rest of the band’s catalog. (Not including Cut The Crap, which the band and the rest of the world seem to enjoy ignoring completely.)