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Burning London: Clash Tribute
Various Artists
Burning London: Clash Tribute
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1

One doesn't necessarily associate punk firebrands the Clash with the radio-ready likes of Third Eye Blind and No Doubt. But in the years since the demise of the Clash, their impact, once localized to the punk underground, ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Various Artists
Title: Burning London: Clash Tribute
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 3
Label: Sony
Original Release Date: 5/4/1999
Release Date: 5/4/1999
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Styles: Hardcore & Punk, Ska, American Alternative, Adult Alternative, Tributes
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 074646910627

One doesn't necessarily associate punk firebrands the Clash with the radio-ready likes of Third Eye Blind and No Doubt. But in the years since the demise of the Clash, their impact, once localized to the punk underground, has seeped up from the gutter they once championed. ("The truth," rasped Joe Strummer in one of his more memorable couplets, "is known only by guttersnipes.") Burning London affords a dozen-plus popular late-'90s performers the opportunity to tip their hats to the erstwhile scourges of the mainstream. The results, as is common with such tributes, are wildly mixed. The highlights here exhibit a less-than-reverent perspective on this timeworn material. Moby and Heather Nova turn "Straight to Hell" into a haunting echo of the Combat Rock prototype, while Cracker's cowpunk trashing of "White Riot" would've sounded at home on an album by frontman David Lowery's great old band, Camper Van Beethoven. On the downside, Indigo Girls' "Clampdown" is an artless revision of one of the Clash's least artful songs, and the likes of Third Eye Blind and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones bring nothing new to "Train in Vain" and "Rudie Can't Fail," respectively. If the featured bands are the draw here, help yourself. But if you're curious about the Clash, the group's bursting-at-the-seams debut and watershed London Calling will serve as superior introductions to a mighty band. --Steven Stolder

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CD Reviews

Influence of The Clash is evident; compilation is spotty
Disco Volante | Strummersville | 08/16/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)

"So the Clash-revival fetishism started sometime in the 1990's. Perhaps it began with the release of "Train In Vain" as a single years after its debut as a hidden track on London Calling. It certainly came to a head at the point of Joe Strummer's death, but my wrath aimed towards those cashing in on it--I'm specifically looking at you, Dave Grohl--will be saved for another time. The 1990's were also significant in that they spawned a number of musical acts that drew heavily from The Clash's influences.

A number of the tracks on this tribute are excellent. For example, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones superbly cover "Rudy Can't Fail"--it's second only to the Mescaleros' rendition, which was nearly exact for obvious reasons. In the same vein, Rancid's cover of "Cheat", on which Tim Armstrong sings, is very well done, and also sounds exactly like the original. However, I am somewhat biased because I know both bands so well that, given fifteen seconds, I can imagine a Strummer/Jones rendition of "Roots Radicals" (which is essentially "Koka-Kola" anyway, but I digress). Both Rancid and The BossTones were influenced heavily by, among others, The Clash, The Specials, Madness, and so forth, so their covers do their idols justice. The Urge's "Radio Clash" is also quite good for similar reasons, and stays close to the original. (Rancid, in fact, loves The Clash so much that, during the 11-year span of their career, they have re-written healthy portions of Sandinista! and London Calling.)

Other tracks that are surprisingly good include 311's "White Man In Hammersmith Palais", on which Nick Hexum approximates Strummer vocal mannerisms. Though he's not an ape of them like Armstrong is, he does sing in a semi-Cockney, and even includes the "just leave me alone/looky looky looky" lines at the end of the song. I also enjoyed Ice Cube's "Should I Stay or Should I Go" for two reasons. First, the original song wasn't that fantastic in the first place--one of Combat Rock's weaker points, I think--and this provides a refreshing interpretation. Secondly, this song seems to me to represent what The Clash founded in the hip-hop community in 1980 when they wrote songs such as "The Magnificent Seven" and "Lightning Strikes." Cracker's alt-country version of "White Riot" shows the band's style and attitude perfectly. Representative of the slacker generation, it makes perfect sense for the band who wrote "I Hate My Generation" to turn "White Riot" into an ironic statement.

Some tracks, however, are less than stellar. No Doubt's "Hateful", while vocally excellent, has backing music that would make the song fit for a McDonald's commercial. No Doubt's early albums--the ones no one actually owns--were instrumentally sound; thus, this comes across, to me, as a song on which they had the capability to do better. "Clampdown" by the Indigo Girls turns The Clash into (well-done) feminist acoustic rock. While I'm sure Joe Strummer's ideologies paved the political landscape of modern music, I'm not fond of this passive-aggressive "Clampdown."

The remainder of the tracks are wretched. The Afghan Whigs' "Lost In the Supermarket" begins exactly like the original "Train In Vain" does, then quickly turns into a slice of tasty hipsterati indie rock. While the original wasn't an exciting number to begin with, this version is even less so. It does, however, show the vocal influence of Mick Jones on trucker-hatted indie boys everywhere. Moby's version of "Straight to Hell" pays the song no respect, turning it into a sad parody. Third Eye Blind's "Train In Vain" sounds like a frat-boy cover band karaoke ensemble...which is fine if you like that sort of thing. Finally regarding Silverchair's "London's Burning", I say only this: "Turning (angsty teenaged) rebellion into money" is terribly obvious and overdone.

I agree with the poster who stated that "only the fanatics" investigate this album. If you are one, you will likely agree with me or think I am mad; Clash fans agree to disagree. If you are not yet a fanatic, start buying their albums, you yobbos. Make sure to give Sandinista! a spin. It's my personal favorite.
Ignore Extremist Reviews, Not a Bad Disc
D. E. Sievers | Minneapolis, MN | 03/16/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I am a huge Clash fan like many others who wrote in. But I think most reviews are overreactions. What the hell did these people expect from this disc? A couple tracks are good, a couple are very good, a couple suck. End of story. It's not the Clash, just what some others have made of some of their tunes. If you're a Clash fan, you'll be interested just for the curiosity factor. I doubt you'll listen to the disc a lot. I don't. It's a novelty to be broken out on occasion on road trips. Now go back to listening to Give 'Em Enough Rope.