It was 1981, and looking to soak up some revolutionary—and authentically countercultural—inspiration, The Clash recorded what would become their fifth album, Combat Rock in Frestonia,” the 1.8 acre “free state” of London’s Notting Hill district, that attempted to (or did, depending on how you look at it) secede from the UK in 1977.
The album, conceived to be a 2-LP set hot on the heels of Sandinista‘s epic three, was originally titled “Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg.” The band set up camp at The People’s Hall—the cultural center of Frestonian life—on Freston Road. Mick Jones did the first mix of the album, but the other band members were dissatisfied, and Glyn Johns (The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, etc, etc) was brought in instead. Johns added some considerable muscle to the tracks and the album was pared down to the single LP, Combat Rock.
However, the “Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg” mixes done by Mick Jones are quite easy to find on the Internet, and in good quality, too. Here’s a sampling of what you can download for very little effort.
If ever there’s a musical artifact of the legendary tensions within the group, it’s this Mick-mixed version of “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” It’s more playful than the version we all know, sure, but there’s no way this would have ever become such a massive hit single in America.
Interesting to note how much this sounds like, ahem, Big Audio Dynamite, right?
The Jones-mixed “Straight To Hell” is a minute and a half longer than the Combat Rock version.
More after the jump…