-is the debut studio album by English punk rock band the Clash. It was released on 8 April 1977 through CBS Records. Recorded and mixed over three weeks in February 1977 for £4,000, it would go on to reach No. 12 on the UK charts, and has been included on many retrospective rankings as one of the greatest punk albums of all time.
The Clash were an English rock band formed in London in 1976 who were key players in the original wave of British punk rock. Billed as "The Only Band That Matters", they also contributed to the post-punk and new wave movements that emerged in the wake of punk and employed elements of a variety of genres including reggae, dub, funk, ska, and rockabilly. For most of their recording career, the Clash consisted of lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Joe Strummer, lead guitarist and vocalist Mick Jones, bassist Paul Simonon, and drummer Nicky "Topper" Headon.
Songs on the album were composed by guitarists Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, with the notable exception of the reggae cover "Police and Thieves". Several songs from these sessions, including "Janie Jones", "White Riot", and "London's Burning" became classics of the punk genre and were among the first punk songs to see significant presence on singles charts. The album featured Jones and Strummer sharing guitar and vocal duties, with Paul Simonon on bass and Terry Chimes on drums, his only studio appearance with the band.
The album was not released in the US until 1979, making it their second US release. The US version also included a significantly different track listing, changing the track order and swapping out several songs for non-album tracks recorded in the interim.
Most of the album was conceived on the 18th floor of a council high rise on London's Harrow Road, in a flat that was rented by Mick Jones's grandmother, who frequently went to see their live concerts.
The album was recorded over three weekend sessions at CBS Studio 3 in February 1977. By the third of these sessions, the album was recorded and mixed to completion, with the tapes being delivered to CBS at the start of March.
The cover artwork was designed by Polish artist Rosław Szaybo. The album's front cover photo, shot by Kate Simon, was taken in the alleyway directly opposite the front door of the band's 'Rehearsal Rehearsals' building in Camden Market.
Drummer Terry Chimes, though a full member of the Clash at the time, did not appear in the picture as he had already decided to leave the group. Another picture from the same Kate Simon photoshoot appears on the UK Special Edition DVD of Rude Boy, released in 2003. The picture of the charging police officers on the rear, shot by Rocco Macauly, was taken during the 1976 riot at the Notting Hill Carnival—the inspiration for the track "White Riot".
The Clash received critical acclaim and peaked at number 12 in the UK charts.
When the album was released in April 1977, Tony Parsons wrote in the New Musical Express: “Jones and Strummer write with graphic perception about contemporary Great British urban reality as though it’s suffocating them … Their songs don’t lie … The Clash have made an album that consists of some of the most exciting rock’n’roll in contemporary music.