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u2popmofo 08-03-2004 05:15 PM

The Clash to release 'Vanilla Tapes' in September

Lost songs due on "London" reissue

Last March, as Clash guitarist Mick Jones was rummaging through boxes in his home in London, he stumbled upon a set of homemade recording tapes that had been missing for twenty-five years. Known as the "Vanilla Tapes," they contain demo versions of fifteen songs that would end up on the band's classic London Calling, plus six unreleased songs, including a cover of Bob Dylan's "Man in Me."
The Vanilla Tapes have long been legend among fans -- now they will be released for the first time as part of a three-disc package to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of London Calling, due out on September 21st. The package contains the remastered original album and a DVD with interviews and footage of the London Calling sessions.

The Vanilla Tapes were recorded in a studio built into a dingy auto garage. "I remember the dirty brown carpet on the floor, and the ceiling and the walls," says Clash bassist Paul Simonon. It was a troubled time for the Clash: The band had recently parted with manager Bernie Rhodes and had just wrapped up its first U.S. tour, embodied by the photo that would become the cover of London Calling: Simonon thrashing his white Fender bass onstage in New York.

"In Britain, everybody thought we were over," says Simonon. "We felt backed into a corner, so we got quite close with each other, and we just tried to go to work."

The band's spontaneity and invention can be heard on these tapes, especially on early versions of "London Calling" (with alternate lyrics) and "Death or Glory." "It's strange hearing those songs," says Simonon. "It really conjures up another time."

(Posted Aug 03, 2004)

In related news, many interferencers check wallets and cry.

~LadyLemon~ 08-03-2004 05:45 PM

I just read about this yesterday--can't wait!!!!!!


IWasBored 08-04-2004 02:30 AM

holy crap!!


In related news, many interferencers check wallets and cry.
so true. so true. i was thinking earlier how i still don't even own the essentials dvd from...whenever that was released last year. :reject:

in yet other news: i watched 'westway to the world' earlier and happen to be listening to the best song ever written at the moment (that song would be the one titled 'white man in hammersmith palais', of course)



The band's spontaneity and invention can be heard on these tapes, especially on early versions of "London Calling" (with alternate lyrics) and "Death or Glory."
:drool: death or glory

bayernfc 08-04-2004 07:09 PM

:drool: Great B-Day present.

.....as for the best song ever written... it's gotta be either White Man, or Clampdown.

BTW, has anyone seen the Let's Rock Again documentary?? It's been hitting the rounds at this summer's film festivals in NY and LA. Hopefully It'll be at the one in toronto soon.

u2popmofo 08-04-2004 07:31 PM


Originally posted by bayernfc

.....as for the best song ever written... it's gotta be either White Man

Seriously, that has to be one of my favorite songs of all time.

bayernfc 08-04-2004 08:58 PM

From http://boards.gcuber.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=5916


The history of rock’n’roll is peppered with stories of mysterious ‘lost’ recordings and film footage. Their possible existence seems to nag at us like unsolved crimes. The Clash have been the subject of several such mysteries. One of the biggest was solved three years ago when Hell West 10, the black-and-white silent gangster movie made by Joe Strummer in 1983 and starring The Clash, turned up on a market stall in London. No copy of it was believed to have survived.*

Its discovery promoted renewed optimism about the greatest Clash riddle of them all: whatever became of the ‘Vanilla Tapes’? This was an itch that had been bugging fans for over two decades. These were recordings the group had purportedly made in rehearsals during the early summer of 1979. They were cut just weeks before the sessions with Guy Stevens at Wessex for London Calling.

The first tantalizing clue that any such tapes existed appeared in an interview Joe gave to NME’s Charles Shaar Murray in June 1979. ‘Suppose a group came along and decided to make a 16-track LP on two Teacs,’ said Joe, ‘which dramatically diminishes the cost factor called "studio cost". Suppose you presented that tape to the record company and told ’em that it cost just a few quid to make… you can still get a fucking LP for two or three quid.’

The idea that The Clash had been experimenting with recording their own material, or even their own LP, was planted in the public mind. The possible existence of self-produced 1979 Clash recordings was forgotten about when London Calling appeared to a grand hurrah at the end of that year. But as the ’80s passed by, it seemed odd that no demos/rehearsal tapes for the album had surfaced on bootleg (bar a couple of studio warm-ups). People began to relish the prospect that arguably the most important group of their generation had joined The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Stones as creators of a mythical lost session.

The group themselves half-remembered committing some material to tape in the rehearsal space they used in Pimlico, called Vanilla. But no one knew where the tapes were, or what was on them. They had other things to worry about, lives to get on with, and were happy to let the stories weave themselves into the myth.

In 1997, some clarity was brought to the legend by the group’s infamous roadie-savant, Johnny Green. That year, Johnny published his on-the-road memoir, A Riot of Our Own: Night and Day with The Clash. This included a detailed account of the months spent at Vanilla developing the songs that would later grace The Clash’s superlative double. He also related how the group taped the rehearsals on a Teac tape recorder and portastudio. So there it was: The Clash definitely had made some recordings.

He also, it appeared, revealed their ultimate destiny. Having been given a tape to deliver to Guy Stevens, then in the frame as producer, he lost them on the London Underground. The way Johnny tells it, the priceless rehearsal/demo recordings of ‘Clampdown’, ‘London Calling’, ‘Guns of Brixton’ and ‘Rudie Can’t Fail’ are still traveling up and down the Northern Line somewhere.

Then, in March 2004, something rather extraordinary happened. Mick Jones was preparing to move a few houses around the corner in Holland Park when he found an old cardboard box with some tapes in it. Mick had accumulated thousands of tapes down the years but these seemed extra special.

‘I recognised them instantly for what they were,’ he explains. ‘Then I put them somewhere… and I had to find them again. But I *sensed* where they were and that took me to the right box. I opened it up and found them. They hadn’t been heard since before the record was made. It was pretty amazing.’

After 25 years, the ‘Vanilla Tapes’ had miraculously revealed themselves at last.

The story behind the recordings begins in February 1979. That month, The Clash returned from their first tour of America. At the end of ’78, the group had split from their manager, Bernie Rhodes. This meant they’d also lost their HQ, Rehearsal Rehearsals in Camden. Johnny Green and fellow roadie Baker Glare were dispatched to find them a new, permanent base.

Eventually, they chanced across Vanilla studios on Causton Street in Pimlico. The building - a former rubber factory - was used for car repairs. ‘It was like a drive-in garage-type place,’ recalls Paul Simonon. ‘There were mechanics and parked cars and fumes. It was great because it was in the middle of nowhere, we weren’t on the map. We could be left alone. You didn’t have other people wandering in and out. It was us, Johnny and Baker. That was the team.’

Mick: ‘Did it feel magical? No, not at all. We just used to walk in through the cars. It was like one of those factories where you go up the stairs and there’s a room where the foreman sits. That’s where we were. It was great because no one knew we were there. Unless they were invited.’

Throughout May and June the new material came together. Topper can vividly remember Mick excitedly turning up one afternoon with the distinctive, strident riff for ‘London Calling’. Some of the music came in ready-made - Rudie Can’t Fail, Lost In the Supermarket, Four Horsemen, I’m Not Down. Other songs grew organically. Mick and Joe were constantly to and fro-ing across the room, showing each other chord shapes on their guitars and guiding Paul and Topper. Sometimes Paul and Topper would be guiding Mick and Joe.

Mick: ‘When you do music, with me, the bit you’ve just done tells me where to go next. I can hear it already, so it’s already there for me. It was really feeling it out, and trusting in the way we work together, knowing it’ll be alright. Looking back, it was a really natural, organic process.’

Paul: ‘Mick would be an hour late or half-an-hour late, so we’d be playing something. I suppose it was the first time we played together in terms of creating the songs. There was a lot of experimentation. I’d hear tunes on the radio or a record, I’d play it, then Topper would join in. Or Mick or Joe would arrive with something, and we would work on it. It was like doubles at ping-pong but with music as the ball.’

Towards the end of June, The Clash decided they wanted to record their new stuff. Joe talked animatedly about taping an album there and then in Vanilla. However, both Paul and Mick contend there was never any real plan to make London Calling at Number 36 Causton Street. ‘We were bluffing,’ says Mick. ‘We were winding up the record company. Our chant for that record was "two-for-one!". We were concerned about value for money.’

Earlier in the year, Johnny and Baker had struck up a friendship with The Who’s soundman Bob Pridden. They knew him from hiring gear from ML Executives, a hire company set up by The Who. Pridden suggested they use a Teac 4-track machine and link it to a portastudio. He helped them set it up, and Baker learned to work the equipment. In this way, The Clash taped several rehearsals. At the end of each session, they ran off cassette copies, which Mick in particular would take away to study. It was one of the final cassette copies that Johnny Green had left on the tube.

Today, Paul and Mick think it was, in fact, Bernie who suggested Guy Stevens as a possible producer the album. That was fine with The Clash. Joe went off in search of Stevens and found him propping up the bar in a pub off Oxford Street…

So what exactly is on the ‘Vanilla Tapes’? What have we been missing out on for the last 25 years? Well, you’re possibly listening to them right now, so you’ll already have a very good idea. Basically, they’re clean, bright recordings that reveal a group who are evidently enjoying creating something organic and musical. Paul’s bass walks, hops and lopes as he feels himself into jazz, funk and disco. Mick plays economically, expertly and fluidly – intelligent licks and chops. Joe’s rhythm guitar cuts through like a man who learned his craft from old Bo Diddley, Bukka White and Chuck Berry records. Topper is magnificent – light, precise and clever. It’s London Calling stripped bare for combo playing: no horns, Hammond, piano, whistling.

The tapes Mick discovered included 37 tracks in total. These have been pared down to the 21 best versions. Every song they recorded is represented here. There are some interesting snatches of studio chatter, but the most exciting revelation is the presence of five completely unknown Clash songs: ‘Heart And Mind’ (a rocker pitched somewhere between ‘The Prisoner’ and ‘Death Or Glory’), ‘Where You Gonna Go (Soweto),’ 'Lonesome Me' and a bluesy instrumental, 'Walking The Slidewalk.' There's also a cover of Matumbi’s version of Bob Dylan’s ‘The Man In Me’. The Clash’s takes on Vince Taylor’s ‘Brand New Cadillac’ and Danny Ray’s ‘Revolution Rock’ made the final album, of course.

‘Remote Control’ gets an airing and shows how different The Clash’s first-album material was sounding two years on. A remnant of the warm-up sessions at Vanilla, it’s a surprise to find it here: the song wasn’t played live after the White Riot tour in spring 1977. ‘We’re not supposed to like that, are we?’ laughs Mick of the song CBS famously released as a single in 1977 without the group’s permission. ‘I think Joe disliked it on a symbolic level, because of what happened with the release. But we always liked the tune.’

‘The Right Profile’ is still in its instrumental stage, and is called ‘Up-toon’ (a version called ‘Canalside Walk’ has been passed over in favor of this one). Paul’s ‘Guns of Brixton’ is still without lyrics and is slightly groovier and more conventionally reggae. You can hear he and Mick suggesting a drum intro to the track to Topper. On other songs, bridges and intros are missing, and lyrics differ. ‘Clampdown’ is in its early ‘Working And Waiting’ incarnation, while we’re treated to the version of ‘London Calling’ that Joe alludes to in The Clash On Broadway box set - here London calls to ‘the fools and the clowns’ and ‘the Mods on the run’ (the 1979 Mod revival resulted in seaside skirmishes that Easter).

Four songs from the finished *London Calling* album are absent: ‘Spanish Bombs’, ‘The Card Cheat’, ‘Wrong ’Em Boyo’ and ‘Train In Vain’. This confirms the received wisdom that (except ‘Wrong ’Em Boyo’), these we written when The Clash were in Wessex recording the album proper.

Even so, that means that the ‘Vanilla Tapes’ feature versions of 15 out of the 19 songs on the album. It’s a fascinating document.

‘We only played these demos a few times,’ says Mick. ‘We didn’t go into the studio and slavishly copy them. We knew the basics, some of the lyrics came later. They were sketches, really. But I’m glad I found them. They tell you quite a lot about what we were like at the time.’

Sadly, Number 36 Causton Street, the site of Vanilla, was redeveloped in the early 1990s. Today, a new building stands on the site, renumbered 1-16. It was in these premises that Joe first sung the immortal words ‘I believe in this and it’s been tested by research/He who fucks nuns will later join the church!’ on ‘Death Or Glory’. It was the ultimate insight into how youthful rebellion is eventually tempered by the responsibilities and realizations of adulthood.

I’m sure Joe would be laughing his socks off if he knew that Vanilla studio is now a church building called London Diocesan House.

Pat Gilbert - MOJO

London, 2004

IWasBored 08-05-2004 09:09 AM



Originally posted by bayernfc
:drool: Great B-Day present.

.....as for the best song ever written... it's gotta be either White Man, or Clampdown.

BTW, has anyone seen the Let's Rock Again documentary?? It's been hitting the rounds at this summer's film festivals in NY and LA. Hopefully It'll be at the one in toronto soon.

white man in hammersmith palais = best song ever.

i read something on that documentary last night. that needs to come somewhere or be on dvd or something. soon. or not, cos i have no money but will need to buy it.

UnforgettableLemon 08-05-2004 04:56 PM

I can't say WMIHP is the best song ever, not even the best Clash song... What about...

London's Burning
Death or Glory
Spanish Bombs
The Magnificent Seven
Rudie Can't Fail
The Card Cheat (such an underrated song)
Capital Radio One

I really love White Man in Ham. Palais, but pretty much anything on London Calling blows it away, IMO. With the exception of Revolution Rock, not my favorite. But hey, it's just an opinion. And as far as Clash reggae, I mean c'mon, Guns of Brixton owns.

IWasBored 08-06-2004 01:16 AM

i really liked their cover of revolution rock.

death or glory, straight to hell, and white man in hammersmith palais really rotate among my top favorite clash songs.

i agree about the card cheat being underrated. mick jones-sung songs are generally that way.

capital radio one is great, but capital radio two has the awesome intro.

rudie can't fail is one of my favorites. and spanish bombs always has to follow. it's like a rule.

guns of brixton does own. dropkick murphys covered that, and it was shit. only paul simonon can pull off that. that's why he's so cool.

broadway never grew on me, honestly. great first line, but i get a little bored by the end of the song.

london's burning has nothing on white man in hammersmith palais.

you know what song i like a lot? deny. and garageland.

and motherfuckin' safe european home. that song rules.

somebody got murdered and washington bullets are awesome.

i'll admit i actually dig hitsville UK. in a guilty pleasure sort of way. it's slammed for sucking, but it's like actually decent bubble gum pop. or something. kind of like i dig car jamming.
i'm not too much a fan of the one featuring ginsberg on combat rock, though.

ok, this is getting random. who really wants to read this stuff?

u2popmofo 08-06-2004 01:30 AM


Originally posted by IWasBored

ok, this is getting random. who really wants to read this stuff?

I'm not sure if I necessarly 'wanted to', but I read it all anyways :wink:

I dont even want to get started on what Clash songs I really like and such, it will be just as long of a list. Not even worth trying.

bayernfc 08-06-2004 01:38 AM

I think clash songs we Don't really like would be a MUCH shorter list... but whatever... this is becoming one of my favourite threads in a while! :wink:

IWasBored 08-06-2004 01:40 AM


I dont even want to get started on what Clash songs I really like and such, it will be just as long of a list. Not even worth trying

i think it goes without saying i could have kept going...

yertle-the-turtle 08-06-2004 09:12 AM

card cheat is brill.

i'll be honest though, if the sound quality of this turns out to be that of the average sex pistols bootleg i'm not going to be happy.

u2popmofo 08-06-2004 09:18 AM

Card Cheat is definitely one of my favorite Clash songs. There was a time when I was obsessed with it.

DiGi 08-06-2004 09:28 AM

this is good news. We are rounding into that time of the year when there is going to be so much music coming out.

I am getting fired up...

IWasBored 08-06-2004 03:40 PM

i'll be working in order to fund my music-purchasing habits, once more.

IWasBored 09-21-2004 09:41 AM

this is out today, isn't it?

isabelle_guns 09-21-2004 10:21 AM

interesting :)

UnforgettableLemon 09-21-2004 02:44 PM

I was gonna buy it, but I'm saving my cash for the Star Wars DVDs, and Mortal Kombat Deception in two weeks. I bought a few new albums, but the lady at the music store told me that the Vanilla Tapes, in terms of sound recording, are more or less crap. The DVD she said was interesting, but I just bought Westway to the World, so I think between the old remaster of London Calling and that DVD, I'll manage until I have 25 bucks to spare. Although I am really curious about the different lyrics on Death or Glory.

bayernfc 09-21-2004 02:55 PM

I just got it and it's my B-Day.......... what a perfect present....a definite Must-have for any clash fan!

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