The Clash, Combat Rock

Their finest hour. The one where longtime fans accused them of selling out, and new, yet to be indocrinated fans, said, "who?" An unjustified assessment on both counts, because make no mistake: their bleeding hearts are just as proudly fixed on their torn T-shirts as ever in their long corpus of works (this is, after all, the band that brought you the questionably excessive Sandinista!), as evidenced by the unerring, unvarnished demands for social justice from the very first track ("Know Your Rights" even) and the sick, provocative confrontation of postmodern British and American racism in "Straight To Hell." ("Lemme tell ya 'bout your blood, bamboo kid," whitesplains a venomous Joe Strummer to his putative half-breed offspring. "It ain't Coca-Cola, it's rice.") No, you don't need to share in their brand of aggressive progressivism to enjoy classics like "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" (though Spanish helps) and "Rock the Casbah," or for something a little less overplayed, the bleakly funky "Atom Tan." Every such A-side is a jam in this truly triumphant return to chaotic form. But even the minor moments shine, such as a musical example of Poe's law in the darkly satirical "Red Angel Dragnet," the rappin'-trappin's of beat icon Allen Ginsberg's monotone behind "Ghetto Defendant" and my personal favourite, the sparkling violent menace of "Death Is a Star," a critique of the public appetite mixing lounge lizard sensibilities with mass murder. Something for everyone. (Content: stylized violence, mature themes, some harsh epithets.)