If you're wondering, "Should I stay or should I go?" about WMNF-88.5's live tribute to The Clash Saturday night at Skipper's Smokehouse, you might want to consider how many diverse artists will be performing hits and obscurities by the seminal British rock band.
From 1976 to their breakup in '86 to the band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Clash's sincerity, social-mindedness and sheer obliteration of boundaries won over devotees from across the music spectrum. At This is Radio Clash: a Tribute to The Clash, you'll see genres ranging from rockabilly (Sarge and the Aeromen) to electro-acoustic pop (Katherine Kelly) to reggae (Tribal Style) to straight-up rock (the Beauvilles).
We asked some of the musicians participating in the Clash bash which songs they picked to cover and why. Here's what they had to say:
Shawn Kyle, the Beauvilles
Performance time: 8:20 p.m.
Songs chosen: "Because of our affinity for the artist's original visions, we will not be playing their pop songs like Rock the Casbah or Train in Vain (which Joe Strummer loathed). Instead, we will be playing songs such as Tommy Gun, which discusses foolish youthful desire to join the military even if you don't know what for; Guns on the Roof, speaking of police-state governments that torture and exploit their populations for the almighty dollar; and Complete Control, which has lyrics about the record industry trying to control, rip off and, therefore, ruin the artists."
Mugabe Tenn, Tribal Style
Performance time: 9:20 p.m.
On The Clash: "Every member loved reggae dubs. The Clash is a group that was not afraid to take risks and that's how I feel about Tribal Style. Nowadays a lot of peoples are mixing reggae with hip-hop and rock and they think it's brand new, but the Clash were way ahead of their time and had been doing that for years."
Song chosen: "One of the songs we're doing is Revolution Rock because, to this day, the revolution continues musically and the song talks about everybody having a good time — and that's what I'm all about."
Performance time: 9:40 p.m.
On The Clash: "What people don't understand about The Clash is that their songs are difficult to play (or reproduce with accuracy). Joe Strummer claimed that punk rock is easy, and anyone can play it, but that's far from the truth. The songs contain unique chords and changes, and are often composed of many verses. It's an understatement that these guys had a lot to say."
Songs chosen: "I chose Straight to Hell and Know Your Rights — the former for its confident declarations about war and humanity, the latter for its purity and long-standing relevance."
Mark Warren, Sarge
and the Aeromen
Performance time: 10:40 p.m.
Songs chosen: "We got asked to play this show kinda last-minute. My rhythm section wanted to do Janie Jones, and when (WMNF music director) Flee sent the list of songs so far selected by the bands, I was surprised nobody had picked Clampdown or freakin' Rock the Casbah. So that was a no-brainer. Interestingly, they all work pretty good as rockabilly/country tunes — but then again, Joe Strummer was always an old soul in a young man's body, no?"
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