Your Friday Clash: Drinking Brew For Breakfast …
When The Clash were recording their debut album in February 1977, they were asked to come up with an extra track to increase the overall running time. As big reggae fans, their answer was to cover Police & Thieves, a contemporary club hit by Jamaican singer Junior Murvin. The Clash gave the song their own edgy rock makeover, a move that kick-started punk’s lasting connection with militant black music, and opened up the band’s music to a strong reggae influence.
“Police & Thieves” is a great song, but I’ve featured it on only a few occasions, along with the other reggae-influenced song on the U.S. version of their debut album, “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais.” So, to avoid being overly repetitive, I give you “Rudie Can’t Fail” from London Calling (1979):
We hear them sayin’
Now first you must cure your temper
Then you find a job in the paper
You need someone for a saviour
Oh, Rudie can’t fail
Now we get a rude and a reckless
We been seen lookin’ cool an’ a speckless
We been drinking brew for breakfast
So Rudie can’t fail …
Classic Clash; apparently, though, there’s some confusion as to its meaning. From The Clash Wiki:
David Mingay (director of ‘Rude Boy’ movie): “It was written about Ray [Gange] being a drunken idiot, and Joe particularly put that line in: ‘Drinking Brew for breakfast’.”
Joe Strummer: “I didn’t write it for ‘Rude Boy’, it was a long time after. We’d had a good summer going to West Indian blues dances and drinking Special Brew for breakfast.”
Ray Grange, by the way, is the Clash fan who follows the band around in the quasi-documentary, Rude Boy (1980). He’s also one of the film’s writers.
But, anyway, we all drink a little brew for breakfast, don’t we? Wait a minute. Not that kind of brew.
So, cheers. And just because I’m so good to you, here’s a fantastic live version of “Rudie Can’t Fail” by Joe and the Mescaleros:
Now, you know what to do.
Turn. It. Up.
David von Ebers
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