John Armstrong with the New Modernettes, at the Rickshaw, Dec 7, 2019, by Allan MacInnis
I also left out quite a bit of a conversation with John Armstrong, some of it because it duplicated stories John had already told in Guilty of Everything. (I mean, Nick, John, I'm sorry, but the article I submitted was over twice my actual wordcount, and, like, I hadda get Jon and Phil and so forth in, too!).
I actually used most of my conversation with Phil - though I didn't transcribe part of it, about the Clash concert that *I saw Phil open for the Clash at* back in 1984. I remember Corsage getting booed by the audience - this being back in the days when audiences were often very intolerant of opening acts they didn't know, something I'm glad to see is not so common these days. I had thought it pretty unfair, and totally enjoyed Corsage's performance - most of which I now forget, but I wondered why people were being so mean (an impression Jade Blade had backed up in a Dishrags feature I did a few years ago for Big Takeover).
Smith's own memories, understandably, were sharper than mine, but he recalled being warned by Payola's drummer Chris Taylor, that for stadium shows, you had to play only your very best material, not try anything new or less known, in order to keep the audience with you. They did okay, Smith recalled, as long as they followed Taylor's advice!
I will save Phil Smith's other stories about that night in case I ever have cause to write about that specific Coliseum show again (the only time I saw the Clash, if you call that Clash the Clash; some people seem not to). Some of my favourite things to come out of the process of writing this story actually ended up being about that concert, which took place May 31st, 1984. I hadn't recalled, for instance, that the Clash at that point had not released Cut the Crap. I share people's disdain for that album, which has some bizarre, even horrifying, missteps on it, and which smeared some of its detritus on my memories of that concert (which I had totally enjoyed!).
But as a result of thinking about that album again, I had the following pleasant discoveries:
a) Thanks, I think, to Erik Iversen (and maybe Doug Smith?) I learned that in fact, the wreckage of that album had little to do with Joe Strummer, who eventually walked away from the project; a lot of responsibility for everything that's bad and wrong with the album can be laid at the feet of Bernie Rhodes. The Wikipedia page about the recording of it is actually pretty interesting. I had always felt like there were some potentially excellent ideas on the album, songs I wanted to like, even one or two that almost survived the terrible presentation, like "This is England." Check out this Youtube clip where someone has adjusted the pitch on Joe's voice... At the time, my other favourite song was called "Are You Red...y?" which turns out to be a mangled form for "Are You Ready for War."
b) I discovered there's a bunch of fan-traded bootlegs out there of shows from that tour, one of which, on Rhode Island if I recall, has pretty good audio (find it!). There are also demos that give you a glimpse of what the album was going to be before it was, uh, Rhodes'd.
c) And finally, I had my once-a-decade-or-so relisten to to Cut the Crap, to see if it's gotten better with time or distance. It hasn't, but I discovered a song that I had forgotten about, "Three Card Trick," actually is kind of fantastic, flashing forward to the kind of music Joe would be making on Earthquake Weather or with the Mescaleros.
There is some possibility I will write about the 1979 Clash soccer game again, depending on who else's stories (or photographs) surface. Nick Jones had said,“I seem to remember that we took team pictures. Like, there was a picture of them, and a picture of us, and then there’s a picture of all of us together." He described the pics as "absolute gold," but didn't know who had them, and it proved beyond my reach to track them down. I did talk to a few people about whether they took pics - Bev, Lynn, and Don didn't, and other leads proved fruitless. Eric von Schlippen - I dunno if he wanted his real name in print, so there's his nom de plume again - said he had photos, but we didn't actually connect (maybe he's got his own plans for said pics; I hope so). I ran out of time, and had to focus on the writing (plus Heather Ewasew's photos are pretty fantastic), but if other people know where those photos are, they should dig them up.