Arriving as a 10-inch “Nu-Disk” (no really) stop-gap release in October 1980, and nearly as long as either The Clash or Give ‘Em Enough Rope, the original release of Black Market Clash might be the single weirdest entry in The Clash’s discography.
Side one was mostly punky b-sides, some of which (“City of the Dead,” “The Prisoner” & “Pressure Drop”) nearly made this project, and side two was all spacey Clash reggae, perfect for putting on as I desperately tried to sleep in the weird days of late 1980. The key track on the record was their cover of Willie Williams “Armagideon Time,” which — even more than “Police & Thieves” — they totally reshaped in their image.
Strummer, of course, starts playing around with the lyrics — switching them around, breaking them down, tossing in his own interjections — making it his own. Oh, and Mick Jones comes up with an amazing loping guitar hook that somehow ties psychedelica with dub. On Black Market Clash, there is over 12 minutes of that guitar hook, and as it winds its way through not one, but two different dub versions, it nearly brings about armagideon all by itself.
“OK, OK, don’t push us when we’re HOT!” Strummer intones at some point in the proceedings, and for once, its an understatement.
Then there’s the amazing live version, captured on the otherwise disappointing From Here to Eternity. While Mick weaves that guitar hook in and out of Mickey Gallagher’s keyboard, Paul Simonon & Topper Headon lock into one of the most powerful grooves of their not exactly ungroovy career, and it completely complements both Mikey Dread’s toasting and Joe Strummer’s exhortations.
Fan-made video for “Armagideon Time”
Fan-made video for “Armagideon Time (Live in 1980)”