Mick Jones was kind of The Clash’s George Harrison. He’s a gifted and distinctive guitar soloist, and was inarguably crucial to the band’s founding and sound, but he was rarely the guy out in front, and like the man said, “It’s the singer, not the song.” But imagine The Clash catalog without “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” “Train in Vain,” “Protex Blue,” or “Police On My Back?” (Yes, the last one’s an Equals cover. Whatevs, Jones completely slayed the lead vocal, and anyway, we just covered how it’s the singer not the blah blah blah, right?) And of course, the one Clash album he’s not on is the one they’d love you to forget ever existed. Jones was born on June 26, 1955, and so the punk rock pioneer who went on from The Clash to found Big Audio Dynamite turns 59 today.
Here’s a 2004 interview on Later with Jools Holland, where Jones joins not just the erstwhile Squeeze keyboardist, but Clash bassist Paul Simonon as well. There’s some great archival footage of a performance of “Clampdown,” and you can catch glimpses of one of the show’s other guests, Green Day, waiting in the wings to shit up the program. Towards the end, Holland asks Jones and Simonon if they’d ever work together again, and predictably enough they hedge, but several years later, they did play together again, as members of Gorillaz’ touring band, and on their Plastic Beach LP.
This footage of Jones out in front of The Clash on the London Calling tour, singing “Train in Vain” for a Paris audience, is mighty damn good.
Jones’ final performance with The Clash, at the US Festival in San Bernardino, CA, May 1983. He’d be ousted from the band just a few months later. This has turned up on YouTube before, but while individual tracks seem to live on uploads of the full show keep getting pulled. Enjoy it while you can.
“The Bottom Line” with his post Clash outfit, Big Audio Dynamite: