Sex Pistols VS The Clash

By John Saleeby
The Sex Pistols and The Clash were the leading bands of the 1977 British Punk Movement. Other British Punk bands such as . . . Gee, I can't remember the names of any other '77 British Punk Bands. The Quarrymen? Nah . . . Oh, yeah, The Buzzcocks! But I can't remember anything about but 'em that name. "The Buzzcocks" - Crazy! Let's face it - The Sex Pistols and The Clash WERE the '77 British Punk Movement, everybody else was in the crowd going "Wow, that's great! I'm gonna start a Punk band, too! Either that or write a hilarious yet heart-warming movie script about lovable unemployed fellas who perform a strip tease routine! Life is full of possibility when you're Young And English!".

But, being Competitive Dog-Eat-Dog American Types, we want to know who was THE BEST - The Sex Pistols or The Clash? So let's break it down category by category until we get to The End when things like Public Image Limited and Big Audio Dynamite began happening and we started listening to Aerosmith again . . .

IF THEY CAME TO YOUR HOUSE -

If The Sex Pistols came to your house they'd set fire to your sofa, try to flush your record collection down the toilet, and shove a firecracker in your cat's butt.

If The Clash came to your house they'd light up a few "spliffs", get all excited about some obscure eight track in your collection like "Rufus Thomas Live In Thibadeaux", and get in a big argument about if Charles Bukowski qualifies as a Beat author or not.

WINNER - The Clash. And your cat. "'Ey, Paul - Blow some smoke innit's face!!"

BEST MOVIE SCENE -

The Best Scene in The Sex Pistols' "The Great Rock and Roll Swindle" is Sid Vicious performing "My Way", of course. But Gary Oldham as Sid performing "My Way" in Alex Cox's "Sid And Nancy" is better. I just like Gary Oldham, he reminds me of a friend of mine. Hey, dude! Send me a video of you singing "My Way" and I'll send you "Rufus Thomas Live In Thibadeaux"!

The Best Scene in The Clash's "Rude Boy" is when Joe Strummer identifies the Red Brigade as "terrorists" with such schoolgirl giddiness it's painfully clear he thinks a "terrorist" is a Really Cool, Groovy, Far Out thing to be. Jesus! I was embarrassed by that twenty years ago, how stupid does it look now? But Strummer was pretty good in Alex Cox's "Straight To Hell". I guess Gary Oldham was busy.

WINNER - "Hey! Did you limeys get my cat high!?! Goddammit!!"

VISUAL IMAGE*

Sex Pistols - The absolute very last way you would ever expect a rock band to dress.

The Clash - The exact way you would expect a rock band to dress now that The Sex Pistols were the hottest band in town. Then a really snazzy Elvis Rockabilly phase, quite possibly the best dressed rock band of all time which means a lot coming from a forty three year old man sitting in a public place wearing seven year old black Levi's, a  Donald Duck t shirt, and some kind of shoes - I can't tell, they're under the table with my feet. Oh, and then The Clash went through this really stupid "Combat Rock" phase where they looked like bit actors playing soldiers in a low budget science fiction movie with a costume designer who doesn't know anything about the military and is too busy with the rubber monster suit to give a shit. And this is when people started buying their records?

WINNER - Anyone who notices that when I sit down in my seven year old black Levi's you can see my balls.

*Been watchin' Bravo a lot lately.

VOCALS -

In a world where recordings of Tom Waits and Randy Newman singing have not only been manufactured and marketed by major corporations but actually purchased by supposedly healthy human beings a critical assessment of the vocal performances on records by The Sex Pistols and The Clash is only necessary to provide John Saleeby with yet another chance to make stupid jokes about Tom Waits and Randy Newman.

The Clash - Everybody - Even Bob Seger fans, maybe even Bob Seger - knows the singers in The Clash from their Golden Oldie Hit Singles On Classic Rock Radio. Joe Strummer is the "This is not KOSHER!!" guy on "Rock The Casbah" and Mick Jones is the "Dahling, you've got to let me know . . . " queer on "Should I Stay Or Should I Go". Yes, these Honored Enrollees Into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame have made about as big a dent in the collective consciousness of the international pop audience as the "I'd like to be in Tijuana eatin' barbequed iguana!" on "Mexican Radio" and that big fat "Maybe it would be beter if we slept together" broad on "Never Say Never". Even Boy George is sitting around making fun of these palookas.  No wonder Johnny Rotten and The Sex Pistols couldn't be bothered to get on the radio.

The Sex Pistols - Since most Americans have never heard Johnny Rotten before you'll just have to take my word on this - I have a really big cock. Ha ha ha! I couldn't resist! Whew! But seriously, squares, Johnny Rotten is so good on "Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols" that once you play it enough for him to get inside your head your brain will pack up for the suburbs and then RAMMA LAMMA FA FA FA!!! Rotten is so good I'd put him right up there with Elvis. Sid Vicious is right up there with Elvis but I didn't have anything to do with that.

WINNER - The Sex Pistols beat The Clash so decisively on this one that if there had been a Punk Rat Pack Strummer and Jones wouldn't even qualify on a Joey Bishop - Peter Lawford level.

GUITARS -

Why am I suddenly getting sleepy?

The Sex Pistols - Steve Jones was a typical rock and roll bonehead who learned everything he knew from The New York Dolls, The Stooges and The Faces. Or The Small Faces. I don't know, I get all those British "Faces" bands mixed up. I can't even be bothered to listen to The Stooges, you expect me to know the difference between The Faces and The Small Faces? Gawd - The Faces, The Stooges, The Small Faces, sometimes I feel like I'm the only guy in the world who ever listened to Nazareth. Steve Jones was a small time burglar until one day he stole "Too Much Too Soon", "Raw Power", "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake", a Gibson Les Paul, and a  Fender amp, plugged em all in at the very same time while standing in a puddle of Guinness and ZZZZZAAAAPPPPP!!! was electrified into The Living Dead Guitarist! Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious caught him staggering around eating the flesh of Bay City Rollers fans and signed him up before David Bowie or Alice Cooper could find out about him. Really.

The Clash - Mick Jones was a typical white kid who wanted to be a  Big Star when he grew up so he practiced really really hard until he knew how to play about as well as Ace Frehley. Which is really good but Ace Frehley don't get no respect so why am I supposed to worship Mick Jones as some kinda Icon Of Rock Wonderfulness? Shit. The Clash need two guitar players to make as much of a ruckus as Steve Jones does all by himself. Joe Strummer helps Mick Jones sound like a real bad ass by knocking the shit out of his Telecaster every time Mick Jones tries to get all Peter Frampton on us. That's another mid seventies Guitar Goof you just know Mick Jones wanted to be just like when he was a little boy - Peter Frampton. Nothing wrong with that but Peter Frampton don't get no respect from - I'm sorry, I already made my point about Mick Jones - What about Joe Strummer? Look, if we don't have enough space to make jokes about his teeth we ain't got time to talk about his guitar playing. Strummer once identified his biggest influence as Bo Diddley. For all you Peter Buck and Thurston Moore fans out there, Bo Diddley is the hard rockin'  mofo who made a successful half century long career out of playing the exact same riff over and over again. So it sounds like Strummer was being modest about his musical skills until you listen to The Clash long enough to know that ol' Bo knows at least one more riff than Joe was ever able to learn. Bet he still has his own teeth, too.

WINNER - The Sex Pistols and if you got a problem with that maybe you should just get outta here until we do another competition like this between Boston and Queen. (Nah, you'll only get made at me for making a lotta AIDS jokes and giving the trophy to Queen anyway.) The guitar playing on "Never Mind The Bollocks" is the work of a man who has never heard a single jazz, country, or blues record in his entire life and it is enough to bring tears to one's eyes it is a thing of such beauty and purity. You can say the same thing about Boston, now that I think about it. Hhhmm . . .

BASS -

Bass players are the most useless of rock musicians. If there was ever a rock band whose bass player was the brains behind the whole operation it is surely the Worst Band Ever. But it really is too bad the guy had to die in that bus accident. Don't worry, if they're stupid enough to like "Master Of Puppets" they won't get the joke.

The Sex Pistols - Everybody knows about Sid Vicious. Sid didn't even know how to play, he was only asked to join the band because he was the most notorious numbskull on the London Punk scene. Is that how Dan Quayle got to be Vice president? If you laughed at that your computer picked it up and I got another check from the Attorney General's office. Sid was also Johnny Rotten's best friend. Rotten liked his buddy so much that calling him "Sid Vicious" was his idea! How sweet! My best friend calls me "Professor Nosehair" so when he asks me to play bass in his band there will be no mystery why I got hooked on heroin and killed my girlfriend at all.

The Clash - The Clash's bass player was Paul Simenon  who, far as I know, knew how to play and never killed any of his girlfriends. Was this guy walkin' The Straight And Narrow or what?

WINNER - What the hell, "Lost In Translation" got the Academy Award for Best Screenplay in the middle of that "Lord Of The Rings" thing winning every other goddamn Oscar of the night (My Mom made me watch it with her), so let's give The Best Bass Award to Paul Simenon Of The Clash. Yaaayyy! After all, he played all that crazy disco and reggae stuff like "The Magnificent Seven" and "Guns Of Brixton". The Clash's disco - reggae stuff is actually pretty good as long as I never have to listen to it again for as long as I live. Make me listen to it now and I'll just go away. And now that folks know how to get rid of Saleeby, copies of "Sandanista" will be flying out of the stores like AOL Free Start Discs across The Fruited Plain.

DRUMS - 

Oh, God - Now I gotta write about DRUMS!?

The Sex Pistols - The drummer in The Sex Pistols was a comparatively reasonable fellow named Paul Cook who kept a good loud beat and probably would have used a cow bell to drink beer out of. Paul noticed the big Japanese gong behind the drums at a Kiss concert and when he saw one again behind the drums at a Queen concert he concluded that the Japanese had conquered the world and didn't leave his house for a year. You've all heard the old joke "What do you call a guy who hangs around with musicians? Answer - A DRUMMER!!! Ha ha ha." Well, what do you call the drummer who hangs around with The Sex Pistols? Answer - Paul Cook, you stupid bastard! Aren't you paying attention to any of this?

The Clash - The Clash have to be as complicated about this as they are about anything, of course. Just like they had two singers to The Sex Pistols' one and two guitar players to The Sex Pistols' one, they also had two drummers! But not at the same time, Thank God. Although I don't doubt that that they thought about it. What the heck, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers are just about the only bands that they haven't been compared to, why not? First, they had a guy named Terry Chimes who played drums on their first and best album and then got fired, probably for talking about The Spanish Inquisition for too long without making comparisons to Joe McCarthy and The House Un American Activities Committee. Their next drummer was Topper Headon. Headon was a brilliant musician (He played all of the instruments on   "Rock The Casbah", I found that really impressive until somebody told me about Over Dubbing) and The Clash never would have made it as big as they eventually did without him. And the very first thing The Clash did once they finally made it as big as they eventually did was fire him and bring back Terry Chimes! And people don't understand why The Sex Pistols said "To Hell with it!" after only one record?

WINNER - The Clash win this category because Topper Headon is so sophisticated. So funky, So JAZZY!

This category is gay.

BEST SONG -

We were going to have a musical production number choreographed by Debbie Allen for each nominee but Steve Jones copped a feel off of Debbie and she threw a fit.

The Sex Pistols - The Sex Pistols best song is "Anarchy In The UK" because it sounds really cool and I have a total blast every time I hear it. Think I'll play it right now as a matter of fact! Well, that was fun. I'd play it again but I have to write something about The Clash. Whatta drag.

The Clash - I guess the best Clash song is "I Fought The Law". It's got a good beat and you can dance to . . . What? Oh, I forgot! That's a cover of an old song by Bobby Fuller, the guy who wrote the theme song for "The Mary Tyler Moore Show". Hey, maybe The Clash should have covered that, too . . .

Who could turn the world on with a snarl?

Who's grandkids are called Green Day

And favorite Marx Brother is a kraut named Karl?

Cause it's you Joe and you should know it

With each pants and every little movement you show it

Punk is all . . . .

What? Huh? Wha? HUSKER DU recorded that song? Ugh! This category has turned out even worse than the Drums! Who wins?

WINNER- "Bastards Of Young" by The Clash. What? Really? Well, I'll be damned!

BEST LIVE BOOTLEG-

Oh, to hell with that!

AND THE WINNER IS . . .

Elvis Costello And The Attractions!

No, I'm just messing with you. I'm sorry, let me get this Sex Pistols zaniness out of my system to get enough Clash efficiency going to get this thing wrapped up.

AND THE WINNER IS . . .

Well, The Sex Pistols, of course.  You think this thing would have had any jokes in it if it was going to end as The Clash as the winner? It's a confusing choice because, while The Clash were probably a better band than The Sex Pistols, who gives a crap about bands? It's 2004, man - Bands are nowhere! Thirty years ago liking a band was like joining a cult and chopping up a pregnant starlet to scrawl lyrics on the wall using the fetus as a Magic Marker. Liking The Strokes and The Darkness today isn't even as involving as following your favorite sit com. Say what you will about "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" but if you don't think Joey on "Friends" is The Funniest Guy In The World I'll kick your ass!

The Sex Pistols, as the saying goes, Wiped The Slate Clean so then The Clash could come along and scribble the same garbage all over it people like Joan Baez had been squawking at us about for years. That was The Brave New World we'd been looking forward to - Don't Eat Meat, Fight The Pigs, and Re Elect Jimmy Carter? I'd turned my nose up at Van Halen and AC/DC for THAT?

When The Sex Pistols said everything was crap they meant EVERYTHING. That "Nothing Is True, Everything Is Permitted" slogan is only a temporary state of mind, you can only empty your head of all the foolishness in the world long enough to relax a little before it all comes sneaking back bit by bit faster and faster until one day you find yourself listening to a psychedelic triple record set with Disco Cold War songs, innumerable reggae dub remixes, and lyrics about Nicaraguan Sandinistas. "Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols" is the sound of a mind as pure of outside clutter as possible and free to knock around whatever's left - The Queen, The Berlin Wall, Stupid Record Companies - around like balls of a Snooker Table. Listen to The Clash after The Sex Pistols and it's like when the alarm clock radio comes on with the morning news and you have to wake up to go to work. "Awwww, shiiiit . . . "

And just look at who you're gonna be working for - The Clash were an Old American Hippy's idea of how The Sex Pistols should have presented themselves to The Great Unwashed. I bet Hillary Clinton has every one of their records on CD and plays them all the time! By the time her Dad was elected President, Chelsea was as sick of hearing "London Calling" around the house as I was of my Mom's "Mary Poppins" soundtrack record. When I finally saw The Clash in 1982 I thought I'd accidentally wandered into a Crosby, Stills, Nash, And Yuk concert there were so many tie dyed, sandal wearing, grooving pieces of shit flopping all over the place. If it hadn't been for The Replacements that would have been the end of rock and roll for me right then and there - Stupid no good for nothin' Replacements!

"Let fury have the hour! Anger can be power!" - No wonder the poor bastard's ticker gave out on him.    

NEXT ISSUE - Joey From "Friends" Versus The Darkness!




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