The Infinite Jukebox: The Clash’s ‘Janie Jones’


Just think what this could have sounded like if they’d let the album be properly produced?
According to the credits in Wikipedia, The Clash’s self-titled first album was produced by Micky Foote, who also engineered it. Somewhere, I read that the band were almost paranoidly suspicious in the studio, rejecting any suggestion by the professional staff as to approaching any song as an attempt to soften them, homogenise them, in short, turn them into anything but The Clash.
Mind you, a £4,000 budget to record the album over three weekends wouldn’t have gone far to experimenting with production techniques to enhance the sound and the power the band could summon up without robbing them of their essence. History celebrates this album for it’s rawness and tinniness, its unameliorated anger and its claustrophobia.
But bloody hell, if ‘Janie Jones’ sounds like this now, just think what it could have sounded like if they’d let it be produced properly?
The opening track of the album, this started off with a rumble, a stiff, awkward drum pattern setting up a shaky force (drummed by Topper Headon, the band’s soon-to-be permanent drummer) before Strummer cuts in with a rough-throated call of ‘He’s in love with rock’n’roll, woah!’ It’s less a chorus, up front, than a mantra (I hate hippies, man!). Because he’s in love with getting stoned, whoa, and he’s in love with Janie Jones, whoa (the then famous London brothel keeper), but he don’t like his boring job, no.
That’s Strummer alone, over that stuttering beat, with guitar slashes, but then the band come together and repeat that mantra entire, and their voices are perfect together and forceful, and they keep returning, as Strummer’s verses sketch an ordinary life that was, in 1977, the year of No Future, simultaneously desired and hated by working class kids. A boring job, a hated boss, worked only to raise the bread for food, his girlfriend and petrol for his Ford Cortina. Loathed by the ones stuck in it, the goal of the ones who longed for something that would put more in their pockets than they got from the dole (and I know that for I was one of them in 1977).
Strummer’s sneering vocals, the band’s unexpectedly harmonising chorus, the pace of the song, its anger and hatred for the world forced upon them, this was what gave the punks their momentum and their force, and The Clash were one of the most forceful of them all. Yeah, a polished production would have been the sell-out Strummer, Jones, Simenon, Chimes and Headon suspected and would have buried them from the beginning. But a production sympathetic to bringing out the band’s energy, to focussing that power into really battering its way through you?
What could ‘Janie Jones’ have sounded like if they’d let it be produced properly?

Just think what this could have sounded like if they’d let the album be properly produced?
According to the credits in Wikipedia, The Clash’s self-titled first album was produced by Micky Foote, who also engineered it. Somewhere, I read that the band were almost paranoidly suspicious in the studio, rejecting any suggestion by the professional staff as to approaching any song as an attempt to soften them, homogenise them, in short, turn them into anything but The Clash.
Mind you, a £4,000 budget to record the album over three weekends wouldn’t have gone far to experimenting with production techniques to enhance the sound and the power the band could summon up without robbing them of their essence. History celebrates this album for it’s rawness and tinniness, its unameliorated anger and its claustrophobia.
But bloody hell, if ‘Janie Jones’ sounds like this now, just think what it could have sounded like if they’d let it be produced properly?
The opening track of the album, this started off with a rumble, a stiff, awkward drum pattern setting up a shaky force (drummed by Topper Headon, the band’s soon-to-be permanent drummer) before Strummer cuts in with a rough-throated call of ‘He’s in love with rock’n’roll, woah!’ It’s less a chorus, up front, than a mantra (I hate hippies, man!). Because he’s in love with getting stoned, whoa, and he’s in love with Janie Jones, whoa (the then famous London brothel keeper), but he don’t like his boring job, no.
That’s Strummer alone, over that stuttering beat, with guitar slashes, but then the band come together and repeat that mantra entire, and their voices are perfect together and forceful, and they keep returning, as Strummer’s verses sketch an ordinary life that was, in 1977, the year of No Future, simultaneously desired and hated by working class kids. A boring job, a hated boss, worked only to raise the bread for food, his girlfriend and petrol for his Ford Cortina. Loathed by the ones stuck in it, the goal of the ones who longed for something that would put more in their pockets than they got from the dole (and I know that for I was one of them in 1977).
Strummer’s sneering vocals, the band’s unexpectedly harmonising chorus, the pace of the song, its anger and hatred for the world forced upon them, this was what gave the punks their momentum and their force, and The Clash were one of the most forceful of them all. Yeah, a polished production would have been the sell-out Strummer, Jones, Simenon, Chimes and Headon suspected and would have buried them from the beginning. But a production sympathetic to bringing out the band’s energy, to focussing that power into really battering its way through you?
What could ‘Janie Jones’ have sounded like if they’d let it be produced properly?

Just think what this could have sounded like if they’d let the album be properly produced?
According to the credits in Wikipedia, The Clash’s self-titled first album was produced by Micky Foote, who also engineered it. Somewhere, I read that the band were almost paranoidly suspicious in the studio, rejecting any suggestion by the professional staff as to approaching any song as an attempt to soften them, homogenise them, in short, turn them into anything but The Clash.
Mind you, a £4,000 budget to record the album over three weekends wouldn’t have gone far to experimenting with production techniques to enhance the sound and the power the band could summon up without robbing them of their essence. History celebrates this album for it’s rawness and tinniness, its unameliorated anger and its claustrophobia.
But bloody hell, if ‘Janie Jones’ sounds like this now, just think what it could have sounded like if they’d let it be produced properly?
The opening track of the album, this started off with a rumble, a stiff, awkward drum pattern setting up a shaky force (drummed by Topper Headon, the band’s soon-to-be permanent drummer) before Strummer cuts in with a rough-throated call of ‘He’s in love with rock’n’roll, woah!’ It’s less a chorus, up front, than a mantra (I hate hippies, man!). Because he’s in love with getting stoned, whoa, and he’s in love with Janie Jones, whoa (the then famous London brothel keeper), but he don’t like his boring job, no.
That’s Strummer alone, over that stuttering beat, with guitar slashes, but then the band come together and repeat that mantra entire, and their voices are perfect together and forceful, and they keep returning, as Strummer’s verses sketch an ordinary life that was, in 1977, the year of No Future, simultaneously desired and hated by working class kids. A boring job, a hated boss, worked only to raise the bread for food, his girlfriend and petrol for his Ford Cortina. Loathed by the ones stuck in it, the goal of the ones who longed for something that would put more in their pockets than they got from the dole (and I know that for I was one of them in 1977).
Strummer’s sneering vocals, the band’s unexpectedly harmonising chorus, the pace of the song, its anger and hatred for the world forced upon them, this was what gave the punks their momentum and their force, and The Clash were one of the most forceful of them all. Yeah, a polished production would have been the sell-out Strummer, Jones, Simenon, Chimes and Headon suspected and would have buried them from the beginning. But a production sympathetic to bringing out the band’s energy, to focussing that power into really battering its way through you?
What could ‘Janie Jones’ have sounded like if they’d let it be produced properly?

4 thoughts on “The Infinite Jukebox: The Clash’s ‘Janie Jones’

  1. In 1983 The Clash collaborated with Janie Jones on the single House Of The Ju Ju Queen, credited to Janie Jones And The Lash (b-side a cover of Sex Machine.) I’ve known about it for years, have both songs on an unofficial collection, but what I’ve only just learned is that this was the last time Joe Strummer, Mick Jones and Paul Simenon recorded together. Janie Jones, there at essentially the end of The Clash (anything after Mick Jones left doesn’t count), there at basically the start.

    Good single too, hitting a lovely jazzy groove.

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