Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Clash -- "I Fought The Law" (1979)

I needed money 'cause I had none
I fought the law and the law won
I fought the law and the law won

"I Fought The Law" fits the Clash to a "T."  The singer of that song is a guy who went up against the powers that be and got kicked in the you-know-whats as a result.  He's not apologetic that he broke the law, but there's no false bravado here either.  He knew from the beginning that the whole thing would probably end badly -- and when it did, he didn't act like a little bitch.

The Clash's version of "I Fought The Law" is everything a cover version should be.  It's different, but still captures the essential spirit of the song.  It's not better the the Bobby Fuller Four's version, and it's not worse.  You can certainly prefer one over the other as a matter of personal taste, but I don't think you can say one is a more valid interpretation than the other one.

The Clash: attitude to spare

This recording appeared on a Clash EP that was released in the UK in May 1979.  It was included on the Clash's eponymous US album, which was released a couple of months later.  

The Clash had been released in the UK two years earlier, but the group's record company didn't think it was sufficiently "radio-friendly" for the US, so it wasn't released in the states (with several songs that were not on the UK version of the album, and vice versa) until a year after the band's second UK album, Give 'Em Enough Rope, had gone on sale in American record stores.

In case you didn't know it, the Clash is a GREAT band -- perhaps the best of their era, and certainly one of the best of all time.  Rolling Stone magazine gave their 1980 double album, London Calling, the 8th spot on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time in 2003.  I can't really argue with them.

Here's "I Fought The Law" by the Clash:

Here's a link you can use to buy the song on iTunes:

I Fought The Law - The Clash (US)

Here's a link you can use to buy it on Amazon:

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