Music Video: The Clash Perform “Charlie Don’t Surf”
Here’s a video of an amazing Clash song, “Charlie Don’t Surf,” from the Sandinista album.
The footage of the video was apparently pulled from a 1982 live performance in Tokyo, Japan, laced w/ scenes from Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, which had been the inspiration for the song.
In the movie, Robert Duvall’s character, Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore, justifies his orders to reclaim a dangerous beach from the Vietcong so his men could do some surfing, with the phrase “Charlie Don’t Surf.” (Charlie, of course, was the American troops’ slang for the Vietcong).
Charlie don’t surf, and we think he should
Charlie don’t surf, and you know that it ain’t no good
Charlie don’t surf for his hamburger momma
Charlie’s gonna be a napalm star
My interpretation of this, though others may disagree, goes to how the U.S. forces western consumerism down the world’s throats. And for those who dare to resist its Capitalist imperatives, it is napalm for you.
Music VIDEO: General Public Performs ‘Rainy Days’
Their first album, …All The Rage (which featured The Clash’s Mick Jones, The Specials’ Horace Panter, and Dexy’s Midnight Runners members Mickey Billingham and Stoker) enjoyed critical acclaim, climbing the charts in both the U.S. and the U.K.
The second single from that album — and one of the most well-recognized songs of the 80s — “Tenderness,” rose to #27 in the U.S. charts and was featured in films: Sixteen Candles (1984), Weird Science (1985), and Clueless (1995). Other well-received singles from the album, included “Never You Done That” and “Hot You’re Cool.”
Off the success of …All The Rage, the band won the prestigious Juno award in Canada for 1984’s Best New Artist.
The band split-up shortly after their second album, Hand to Mouth, which spawned two memorable singles, but proved to be far less successful than their debut LP.
In 1995, while Dave was working for Greenpeace, long-time fan and friend Elvis Costello gave Dave Wakeling an earful in front of 18 other Greenpeacers, telling him: “All this Greenpeace stuff, and this anti-Apartheid stuff, that’s all well and good, but you know your place is on the stage, and you know that!” Costello’s words apparently had some affect, because two weeks later Dave rejoined with Roger as General Public to begin work on their third, and arguably strongest, album-to-date, Rub It Better.
For the new album, Wakeling and Roger brought in their old English Beat comrade Saxa (on Saxophone), as well as Birmingham reggae singer and toaster Pato Banton (who’d worked previously w/ the English Beat on Special Beat Service). Other guests included Mick Jones, Chris Spedding, and ex-General Public members Horace Panter and Stoker. Produced by Talking Heads keyboardist Jerry Harrison, the album is a perfect blend of soul, ska, dancehall, pop, and contemporary rock.
Despite receiving a 5-star rating from Rolling Stone Magazine and becoming an instant Beat/GP-fan favorite, Epic Records somehow dropped the ball on promoting this amazing album, resulting in lackluster sales. Roger eventually grew tired of traveling back and forth between England and America (where Wakeling had earlier relocated) and the band, once again, called it quits.
I have had the pleasure of seeing Dave Wakeling’s The English Beat on several occasions, which go down as some of my all-time favorite live performances (and I have seen A LOT over the years). His set includes many of the fabulous songs from both The English Beat and General Public. He is truly one of the most gifted (and underrated) songwriters/singers/guitarists/performers of our time.
From General Public’s Rub It Better, here is the effervescent “Rainy Days,” with Roger at the mic:
LISTEN: Reggae Great Delroy Wilson Sings ‘This Life Makes Me Wonder’
In 1961, a thirteen year old Delroy Wilson began his music career in Kingston, Jamaica, recording ska hits penned by Lee “scratch” Perry, Coxsone Dodd, amongst others. His music evolved with the sounds of 60’s Jamaica from ska to rocksteady and eventually to reggae. By the late-60s/early-70s he was one of the most influential reggae recording stars on the island.
He first toured the U.K. in 1970, where British reggae label Trojan Records had him record a number of songs — a move that would help him to expand his European footprint.
By the mid-70s many British punks, including The Clash’s Joe Strummer, counted themselves as Delroy Wilson fans. Strummer, at the time, attended a reggae concert at the Hammersmith Palais to see Wilson and fellow Kingston musicians Dillinger and Leroy Smart perform. Expecting a rebellious ‘roots reggae’ performance, Strummer felt disappointed by their sets, claiming them to be “all very Vegas.”
British film director and musician Don Letts, who attended the show with Strummer, reflected on the evening: “I think that show was an eye opener for [Strummer], realizing that all these people were trying to get out of the ghetto roots life.”
The event inspired Strummer to pen the lyrics for one of The Clash’s biggest hits: “White Man In Hammersmith Palais.” In it you can hear Strummer shout out “Delroy Wilson, your cool operator.”
Wilson died at the age of 46 on March 6, 1995 of cirrhosis of the liver. He is often noted for his soulful vocals and melancholy lyrics. Of his many great songs, one of my personal favorites is his 1968 recording, “This Life Makes Me Wonder.” The lyrics are simple, yet strangely haunting, and the music is just so damned melodic:
This life makes me wonder
how to live another day to come
This life makes me wonder
how to live another day to come
I feel the strong of the hand of one that I was depending on
It takes a friend… to be a friend
It takes a friend… to stop a friend
Delroy Wilson’s greatest hits album, Once Upon A Time, which features this song, can be downloaded here:
FREE 12-Song Download: Carbon/Silicon (Ex-Clash Mick Jones) New LP, ‘Carbon Bubble’
Great news for all impoverished music lovers out there! Carbon/Silicon, featuring — one of my all-time favorite songwriters — Mick Jones (formerly of The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite) and Tony James (formerly of Generation X), have just released their new 12-Song LP entitled The Carbon Bubble. It is available at the Carbon/Silicon site as […]
Watch: From 1980 — Boomtown Rats Perform Hit ‘Banana Republic’
Here’s a fabulous song by Bob Geldof’s old band — from Dublin, Ireland — The Boomtown Rats. For those unfamiliar with this track, it’s got a great reggae-infused melody that will leave you humming it over and over again, all day and night. Songs like these make me miss the 80s something terrible: Enjoy!: The […]
Watch: Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros “Tony Adams”
In the name of disclosure, I’ll just say that The Clash are one of my all-time favorite bands. I sense that quite a few out there have shied away from Joe Strummer’s post-Clash efforts. For those of you who loved The Clash, but haven’t yet delved into this part of Strummer’s career, a word to […]