Cut the Crap
October 31, 2019
Todd: Okay, so. Let's just take the standard, music critic line about punk.
Clip of The Damned - "New Rose"(Editor's note: I don't recognize all the music and video clips used in the review. Anybody that can help fill in these gaps will be welcome to do so.
Todd (VO): Greatest thing to happen to popular music since the Beatles. [Clip of Sex Pistols - Anarchy in the U.K.] Turned rock and roll back to its scrappy, dangerous roots, after years of arena bloat and pretension. Spirit of '77, Sex Pistols, the Ramones. CBGBs, alienation, rage, safety pins as jewellery, all that shit. All part of one of the greatest and most enduring movements in rock history.
Todd: So if we take all that to be true...What happened in the 80s?
Clip of Wham! - "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"
George Michael: Wake me up before you go-goTodd (VO): Seriously, what happened? Surely, in the heart of the Reagan and Thatcher era, the rebellious soul of punk rock should've been more vital and necessary than ever, right?
Todd: (Beat) And it was!
Todd (VO): Punk music lived on, and thrived in the 80s, and you wouldn't have any problem finding great punk rock.
Todd: You know. If you were into that.
Todd (VO): But if you were not an actual punk. If you were not wearing a mohawk and going into dingy clubs and slam-dancing to bands with names like the Piss Hydrants....
Todd: Punk, might as well have been completely dead to you.
Clips of Blondie - Hanging on the Telephone,...Todd (VO): The first wave of punks weren't underground, they were actual genuine hitmakers, notorious to the public at large. But by '84, it had fallen back out of the mainstream. Most of the good bands had broken up, or couldn't break through. At best you had cartoon sell-out Billy Idol, or bands like [...and "Pride (In the Name of Love)" by...] U2 and the Talking Heads, who were barely punk to begin with and left it far behind.
Todd: And then, there's the sad, sad story of The Clash.
Live performance of "White Riot"Todd (VO): If there was any punk band that should've owned that decade, it was The Clash, arguably the greatest punk rock band that ever existed. [Clip of "London Calling"] They were the righteous political soul of the genre, and they stormed the 80s, having just released their greatest album, [album cover appears on screen of...] London Calling. A record so amazing that they picked up the title [headline reading...] "The only band that matters."
Clip of "Rock the Casbah"
Joe Strummer: The Shareef don't like it!Todd (VO): Just a couple years later, they released the album [album cover appears on screen of...] Combat Rock, which broke them into the mainstream with massive hit singles. They were selling out giant arenas, headlining festivals.
Todd: And that, as far as most are concerned, is where the story ends.
Live performance of "Straight to Hell"
Joe Strummer: Go straight to hell boysTodd (VO): Unable to reconcile their revolutionary ethos with their pop success, the band fell apart. They scattered into the wind, they never reunited. And because band leader, Joe Strummer passed away in 2002, they never will. The legend of The Clash ends there, immaculately and eternally into rock history.
Todd: But that's not exactly how it went down.
Todd (VO): The Clash did lose some key members in 1983. But they put together a new line-up and soldiered on. And as far as Joe Strummer was concerned, this was all a good thing. This was a bold new chapter for the band, and as the glitz and glamour of MTV took over, the world needed The Clash more than ever.
Joe Strummer: The Clash have to come back. In order, to tip the balance. So that a young person going, "Oh I have to [clips of...] put make-up on and, [...and Culture Club - "Karma Chameleon] wear a dress to really make it".Todd (VO): Yeah, exactly.
Todd: And so....
Todd (VO): In 1985, The Clash re-debuted to the world. Ready to bring punk rock's energy back to the masses, with their newest record, Cut the Crap.
Todd: And man, what an unfortunately fitting title that was.
Todd (VO): They did indeed "cut the crap", they cut twelve tracks [image of poop emoji] of crap.
Todd: No record has ever teed itself up for the critics like that....
Clip from "This is Spinal Tap"Todd (VO): ...since Spinal Tap released "Shark Sandwich."
Interviewer: Merely, a two word review that just said "Shit Sandwich."Todd (VO): "Shit Sandwich" was my original name for this series by the way.
Todd: But yeah. Crap.
Todd (VO): The reviews were brutal. The fans were disgusted. The band fell apart once and for all. Cut the Crap was supposed to bring the rebel spirit back to the world, but all it did was end the first wave of punk rock for good.
Todd: Should they stay? No, they should go now. The Clash craps out. This is Trainwreckords.
Trainwreckords intro, followed by the album cover for Cut the Crap
Todd: Okay I admit, sometimes I slack off doing these episodes but I wanted to get this one right cause...
Todd (VO): ….The Clash is one of the greatest bands in history. And there's a wealth of information about them so, I did my research this time around. [Photos of "We Are The Clash" and "The Clash: All the albums. All The songs"] Bought a bunch of books, [Photos of "The Clash: Rude Boy: The Movie", "The Essential Clash", and "The Clash: West Way to The World" DVDs.] rented a whole lot of documentaries.
Todd: And almost, to a one: No one, wants to talk about this phase of their career.
Clips of "MTV Rockumentary: The Clash."
Todd (VO): For example, here's all MTV has to say about it.
Kurt Loder: Finally, Strummer and Simonon parted ways with Mick Jones. The Clash lived on as a logo for a while, but the real band was dead. The music lives though.
Todd (VO): (Sarcastically): Thanks Kurt Loder! Really useful to my video, glad I watched all of that. (Normal): The official band documentary, "West Way to the World?"
Todd: Ends right at 1983. No mention of the band existing afterward.
Picture of the "The Clash Sound System" Collecter's box set.Todd (VO): Giant ass box set from 2013?
Todd: Includes none of the songs from this album.
Screencap of a Rolling Stone article. "Flashback: The Clash says Goodbye at the 1983 US Festival"Todd (VO): Rolling Stone, [Highlighted paragraph in question] says this lineup doesn't even count.
Todd: [Holding the previously mentioned "All The Albums: All The Songs" Book] I bought a book, that reviews, literally all the songs. I mean, look at this thing. So thick. It's got like two full pages of "The Magnificent Seven" alone. But when it gets to "Cut The Crap", it'll give a paragraph per song written in a tone of "ugh, do we really have to talk about this?
Todd: Most fans.....
Todd (VO): ….Don't even call this lineup, "The Clash." They're "The Clash: Mk II". Apparently, they were such a shadow of themselves they don't even deserve the name.
Todd: You would think the band had been entirely recast like [Publicity photo of....] The New Monkees.
Todd: Here's what actually happened. The band lost two members.
Todd (VO): Topper Headon, the drummer, was the first to go because of drug problems. Sad but, pretty standard for rock bands. Most drummers tend to get replaced.
Todd: The big firing was when they let go....
Todd (VO): …..Mick Jones.
Live performance of "Train In Vain".
Mick Jones: Did you stand by me?
No not at all.Todd (VO): Mick Jones, and Joe Strummer, were the twin leads of the band. They both sang, wrote most of the songs together.
Todd: They're the Lennon and McCartney of the band basically.
Todd (VO): But Mick, apparently wasn't "punk enough." He was too much a rock star, flashing cash, dating models, just generally being kind of a dick.
Todd: And tensions escalated until he got sacked.
Todd (VO): But it wasn't just his attitude, it was also musical tensions. Mick had a lot of eclectic influences that, [Clip of "E=MC2] he would bring to his next band "Big Audio Dynamite"
Clip from "Rush"
Mick Jones: Situation No WinTodd (VO): That was-uh-That was a fun weird group, and the-they did a lot of hip-hop, dance, sampling.
Todd: But Joe wanted to bring the group back to basics.
Joe Strummer: I looked at all the people making records and doing shows. And I realized that. (Pause): They'd all gone. Over produced, overproduction. We wanted to strip it down. Back to- Back to punk rock roots, and see what's left, and see how to progress it there.Todd (VO): Yeah! None of that poncy, overproduced Synth garbage. We're real (Brief English accent) Rock 'n Rollers!
Todd: So, why don't we actually take a listen? Let's check out this scrappy, lo-fi, DIY album. Here's the opening track, "Dictator"!
Clip of a live performance of DictatorTodd: Okay, that's-that's clearly a drum machine.
Joe Strummer: Dictator. More guns I got the better
Yeah, I am the liquidator.Todd: (Flabbergasted): is- (Pause): W-why does it sound like that? I-is the drum track out of sync with the rest of the song? What-what is going on?
Joe Strummer: But now I am the voice.
Howling from the radio.Todd: (Disgusted): What IS this?!
(Editor's note: I seriously cannot make out what's being said in the clip being used, the audio and mixing are that terrible. If anyone can decipher what lyrics are supposed to be there, please do so.)
Todd (VO): The fuck is that synthesizer? Are th-are they playing it with [Stock photo of a kid with his head on a piano] their head?!
Todd: Did they pick up the keyboard and point it face forward in front of a [Clip of] Soft-ball machine!? This....I....I have never heard production this ugly. And I don't mean [Picture of a punk] Ugly in the Punk way, it's ugly in the, "We have no idea what we're doing" kind of way!
Todd (VO): I mean you wanna talk about overproduced. [Album cover for "Asia")] Fucking Asia, would tell you to dial it back with all this.....
Todd: ….Shit. Geez!
Todd (VO): What is that awful background noise?
Todd: It sounds like [Stock photo of someone tuning a car radio] when you're in-between radio zones and two stations are trying to share the same frequency.
Todd (VO): Is-is the problem on my end?
Todd: Is it- Is it my speakers- (sighs) Hold on. (Places a set of headphones over his ears.) That's not it, let me try these (Puts on another set of headphones).
Todd (VO): No I seriously did check through several sets of speakers and headphones, trying to make sure this wasn't a hardware issue on my end. No, the mixing is actually that bad. It sounds like there was a four year old in the production booth, playing with the levels.
Todd: But I guess all the noise and busy production is meant to emphasize the lyrical theme....
Todd (VO): About how it feels living in a South American style dictatorship. And how it relates to-
Todd: Oh who am I kidding?! I-I can't make out a single word. Lyrical theme.
Joe Strummer: But I'll never ever go downTodd (VO): I almost don't even want to continue. Jeez.
Todd: Well, I did continue, and I can tell you that at the very least, nothing else on the album sounds like THAT. But that doesn't mean it's ever good.
Clip of Live performance of "Dirty Punk"Todd (VO): The second song on the album is called "Dirty Punk."
Joe Strummer: Gonna be a dirty punk
Gonna rock your neighborhoodTodd (VO): Okay, yeah, yeah that's more like it right?
Todd: This sounds like the hardcore record Strummer was talking about making.
Joe Strummer: Gonna get me a big, big, big.
Great big car
Then I'm gonna drive, drive, dirve
I'll drive so far.
Up the boulevardTodd: There you go. See, he's a dirty punk, and he just wants to drive his car.....Down the boulevard. (Beat): Like Punks, do? (Shrugs).
Joe Strummer: I shout I am a dirty punk.
I'm gonna rock your neighborhood.Todd (VO): This is.....inane.
Todd: Like I'm glad the production isn't a mess like the first one but, the lyrics sound like a suburban poser kid trying to sound Punk.
Todd (VO): The same goes for the album cover, which looks like a Wal-Mart punk t-shirt. The Clash were supposed to be engaged and righteous. The lyrics to this, sound like a doofy hair metal song. When he said he wanted to bring back rawness and danger, is-is that what he meant?
Todd: I watched those interviews, and he's doing his best to be, you know, the sharp-edged, angry young man lashing out at the world....
Joe Strummer: Drugs are over! As from, drugs are over from this minute now! Anybody who takes a drug is a hippy! And hippies can shove off!Todd (VO): But (sighs) I don't know....
Todd: Maybe it's just me, but this all seems really forced.
Todd (VO): (In a faux English accent): Ugh! Oi! I'm a punk rocker! Shove it up your arsehole, wanker!
Todd: (Shrugging): He doesn't really, sound like he believes it.
Todd (VO): Although he does seem legitimately unhappy at least. Like what's going on here? (Album track circled in green) Now let's look at the next song, we are the-
Todd: We Are The Clash.
Live performance of "We Are The Clash"
Joe Strummer: We ain't gonna be treated like trash.
We got one thing.
We are The Clash (What?!)
We are The Clash (Louder)Todd: (Staring in disbelief): ……….Are you kidding me?
Joe Strummer: We are The Clash.Todd (VO): (Sarcastically): Boy, that's good to know! I was worried that this version of the band couldn't legitimately be The Clash. But now I know they are. Because they told me.
Todd: Look there's no other way to say this. This sounds like the theme for a Clash TV Show.
Interview clip of the band members on a couch.
Joe Strummer: We are The Clash!Todd (VO): (Band's logo superimposed) The Clash! Weekdays at 4:30 on (logo of) FOX10! We are The Clash.
Todd: Are ya? Are ya now?
Todd (VO): Who are these new guys anyway? Well, the two new guitarists are Nick Shepard and Vince White. Mick Jones was so important to the band they apparently needed two guys to replace him. Uh, the new drummer was Pete Howard. Honestly no one was ever particularly impressed with their stint in the band.
Todd: Least of all, themselves.
Clip of "The Rise and Fall of The Clash"Todd (VO): There's different theories over why they didn't work. I saw one guy, say that they were Clash fanboys so they didn't really bring anything new. They themselves said they were intimidated because they were rookies and they didn't really feel like they could participate, it doesn't really matter because they're not on this record. Their parts were recorded by session musicians and a (Photo of) drum machine. Which, I'm guessing no one knew how to operate cause the beats on this record sound like trash.
Todd: Anyway let's get back to that. This is track four......
The track name circled in redTodd (VO): Are you Red.....Are, Red-Y? Re-oh Ready! Are you....
Todd: What the hell kind of title is that?
Live performance for "Are you Red....Y?"Todd (VO): Oh my god, just the sound of this album!
Todd: Again, this is the stripped down, punk record you wanted to make? This sounds like a half assed, Frankie Goes To Hollywood tune!
Picture of the title again.Todd (VO): (sighs): Red. Ready, Red. Maybe a reference to communism. I (Sighs), I don't even care!
Todd: I can't get past this half-assed, Electro-Funk sound!
Todd (VO): All this take about trying to be better than the overdressed, makeup covered, music for the masses. This sounds exactly the same, only worse.
Clip of Kim Wilde - "You Keep Me Hangin' On"
Kim Wilde: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.Todd (VO): Barely a difference. Who made this?
Todd: What idiot producer did this to them!?
Back of the album cover which shows the words "Produced by Jose Unidos"Todd (VO): Jose Unidos. Who the hell is that?
Todd: Wikipedia help me out.
Photo of the Wikipedia article of the album, showing the words "AKA Bernie Rhodes" next to Jose Unidos.Todd: (sighing and hanging his head): Okay. Let's talk about Bernie Rhodes.
Various pictures of Bernie Rhodes with the other band members.Todd (VO): The Clash is Bernie's band basically. It was his idea, he found all the members and put them together, he gave them their look. Made a lot of decisions about their creative direction. He was also minorly involved in The Sex Pistols, but that really wasn't his baby.
Todd: The Clash was.
Todd (VO): He also exerted what some members called a "Stalinist" control over the band. And because of that, he......
Todd: Well, he clashed with some of the band.
Todd (VO): Mick especially, so he was fired in 1979 .But Joe really like Bernie. He was a real "Bernie Bro" if you will. And when their triple album, "Sandinista!" didn't sell, the band went deep into debt with the record company so they brought Bernie back in to help them out. And under his reigns they got back on top. So he's very important to the band and their history. But if you listen to anyone who was there during this phase of the band.
Todd: Bernard Rhodes comes off as an extremely sinister figure.
Todd (VO): It was Bernie's idea to fire Mick, and lot's of people now say that this was Bernie's "evil plan" to make an opening...
Todd: Where he could become part of the band.
Music video for Malcom McLaren's "Buffalo Gals"Todd (VO): See, around this time, The Sex Pistols' manager was having his own hits. So I guess Bernie got jealous....
Todd: And he decided he was gonna use The Clash, to launch his own musical career.
Clip of The Notorious B.I.G. - "Big Poppa"Todd (VO): Basically, The Clash is Biggie Smalls, and Bernard Rhodes is Puff Daddy. Except Puffy turned out to be a lot more talented.
Todd: (Shaking his head): Yeah, I went there.
Todd (VO): The stories behind the scenes are much more interesting than the record, which, quite honestly I don't even know what to say about it. These songs just plain aren't finished.
Live Performance of
Joe Strummer:Pretty much every track relies on the whole band shouting the chorus.
Brief montage of that exact thing.Rolling Stone called it "The Oi! Choir". And believe me: You will get sick of it real quick.
Todd: And the choruses themselves are just weak!
Todd (VO): The Clash, at their height, were great songwriters. Not just in the punk, bash and trash, shout kind of way. They had genuinely really well constructed songs. And most of that apparently was Mick's doing, Joe was more of a lyrics guy. [The back of the album showing "Written by Strummer and Rhodes" circled in green]. Replacing Mick, with Bernard Rhodes.
Todd: Was again, the Manager.
Todd (VO): it's what would happen if instead of [Picture of] Lennon and McCartney, we had, [Generic photo of a mailman superimposed over John Lennon.] Lennon's mailman and McCartney. Look Bernie, had almost zero experience as a producer, or a musician, or a writer before this. Yes he was very important to the band and their success, so were their girlfriends probably, so were their accountants.
Todd: Every, bad, decision on this album, can be traced back to Bernie.
Todd (VO): Bands who heard early versions of the songs in concert said they sounded good. Bernie forced that electronic shit on the band against Joe's wishes. [Picture of the original album art, back when it was called "Out of Control]. He changed the title at the last second to the one with "Crap" in the title, thanks for that.
Todd: He's the one who made the greatest Punk band in history sound like every other shit act on MTV!
Live performance of "Life is Wild"
Joe Strummer: Has anybody got a cigarette?Todd: (In a faux English accent): Oi Mickey you're so fine.
You're so fine you blow my mind.
Picture of the cover for "This Is England"Todd (VO): Okay, is there anything good on this album? Well, there is one song everyone seems to like in hindsight. And that is the only single, "This is England". It's the only song on the album that wound up on any of the compilation albums. Joe Strummer has called it, "The last good Clash song".
Joe Strummer: This is England.
This knife of Sheffield steel.
This is England.
This is how we feel.Todd (VO): Honestly, I can't really say I'm a super fan. Again, it's just a production thing, synthesizers.
Todd: A Clash song, should sound different from a Phil Collins song is my feeling.
Joe Strummer: On a human factory farming.Todd: (singing): Lady in red!
Todd (VO): But I see why it has fans. The song is really sparse so, the lyrics bubble up and their a pretty bleak portrait of British poverty. Everyone's broke and poor, police violence, no one has a car to drive or anything.
Joe Strummer: I got my motorcycle jacket.
But I'm walking all the time.
Clip from "The Rise and Fall of The Clash"
Vince White: Such a tremendous song because, it just represents what's going down ya know? We don't have a, fucking England anymore. Everything is gone, it's down the tubes.Todd (VO): It does really capture something about the bleak, misery of the Thatcher era.
Todd: But, that's about it as far as "good" tunes.
Todd (VO): Like when people try to defend this album, it's mostly just people saying things like, "Oh well there's like, a couple okay songs." But no one can seem to agree on which ones were the good ones.
Todd: For me, uh.
Title tracks circled in green.Todd (VO): I dunno, I guess I kind of like the chorus to "Movers and Shakers." Eh, "North and South" I'm kind of fond of too. I'm not saying they're great either.
Todd: Just the ones that aren't completely destroyed by the shitty sound design.
Todd (VO): But even for the defenders it was, mostly too little, too late. Midway through the production, Joe says he kind of, gave up after realizing what a terrible mistake he made in letting Bernie convince him to fire Mick. And he just got, really depressed and checked out.
Lyrics on the screen for
Joe Strummer: Finger point's gonna pop tonight.
It's gonna point at the best, girl in sight.Todd: Yeah, I can kind of tell he wasn't giving it his full effort.
Todd (VO): Joe just powered through the end of the sessions and then disappeared. The planned music video for "This is England" got cancelled cause, the day of the shoot, no one showed up to be in it. And that's where the story ends for The Clash. The band ended for real this time, Joe and Mick, made up and even made an onstage appearance shortly before he died. They never officially reunited. "Cut the Crap" remains a widely despised catastrophe. And where The Clash's great albums are timeless....
Todd: Their final album is too dated and cheesy to listen to.
(Picture of a magazine article titled "Cutting the Crap with Bernard Rhodes"Todd (VO): Bernie Rhodes blames the albums bad reviews on "Censorship" and "Anti-punk bias." You know, for a guy leading a revolutionary band....
Todd: He sure sounds like a [Photo of the Rotten Tomatoes page for "Batman v Superman"] DC fan complaining about Rotten Tomatoes. But if you want a silver lining, here's this.
Todd (VO): "We are The Clash", seems like a misconceived and defensive attempt to establish the new line-up's credibility. But Strummer says, that's not how it was intended. It was supposed to be an affirmation to all the fans that they were all The Clash.
Todd: See there's a little Clash in all of us!
Todd (VO): It's almost heartwarming how un-Punk that is. but since The Clash's music has proven so enduring, I think it's kind of true.
Todd: We, the fans, are The Clash. (Beat) But these guys were not.
Joe Strummer: We are The Clash!Ending music: Todd plays "This is England" on piano
"Cut the Crap" is owned by Epic Records
This video is owned by me
THANK YOU TO THE LOYAL PATRONS!