Sharoma The Clash Covers Rock

Covers Rock

Compilation featuring original versions of songs The Clash have covered either live or in the studio.

Track listing

  1. Bo Diddley - Mona (I Need You Baby)
  2. Bobby Fuller Four - I Fought The Law
  3. Booker T And The MGs - Time Is Tight
  4. The Equals - Police On My Back
  5. Jackie Edwards - Get Up
  6. Jimmy Cliff - The Harder They Come
  7. Junior Murvin - Police & Thieves
  8. Lee Perry - Bad Weed
  9. Lee Perry - Grumblin' Dub
  10. Lee Perry - Magic Touch
  11. Lee Perry - Soldier And Police Ware
  12. Max Romeo - A Quarter Pound Of L'Cense
  13. Mose Allison - Look Here
  14. Professor Longhair - Junco Partner
  15. Ramones - Blitzkrieg Bop
  16. Ray Charles - Hit The Road Jack
  17. The Maytals - Pressure Drop
  18. The Rulers - Wrong 'Em Boyo
  19. The Slickers - Johnny Too Bad
  20. The Small Faces - Every Little Bit Hurts
  21. Vince Taylor & His Playboys - Brand New Cadillac
  22. Wanda Jackson - Fujiyama Mama
  23. Willie Williams - Armagideon Time


A compilation put together by Belgium's Clash guy Jerome De Greef. It's interesting to hear the original versions of these songs, and also to hear how, in most cases, the Clash versions are far better. Just in case you're not sure of which is which and when and where The Clash covered them, here is the run down:

Mona (I Need You Baby)

This was covered in rehearsing for the London Calling album. Early on in the sessions the band were dabbling with 50s rock and roll numbers. Mona, along with Brand New Cadillac, were among the first songs put on tape, and of course the latter made the album. You can find their version of Mona on the Pier Pressure CD.

I Fought The Law

No need to tell you about The Clash's cover of Sonny Curtis's classic. It's very famous and rightly so. Though I must say I think the original version by Bobby Fuller Four is also excellent. My favourite song on this CD. The Clash version originally appeared on the UK only Cost Of Living EP, and the US release of 'The Clash'. Now you can find it on that, plus The Story Of The Clash. Good live versions are also on From Here To Eternity and Clash On Broadway. I myself prefer the live version on Amsterdam 81-7. The Dead Kennedys also covered this, but it's not a patch on The Clash's version.

Time Is Tight

You can find The Clash's cover of this on Super Black Market Clash, and it was originally made available on the US only 10 inch release, Black Market Clash. Booker T And The MGs also did the famous tune that was the theme to the BBC's cricket coverage... you know which one I mean right? Live versions are a rarity.

Police On My Back

Interesting to hear, differs quite considerably to The Clash's version, especially the speed of the opening guitar. You can find The Clash's version on the Sandinista! album, and a live version I recommend is the one on The Right Profile, though it was played live frequently so there are plenty good versions out there.

Get Up

Jackie Edwards' song was the basis for The Clash's Revolution Rock, and it sounds similar. Revolution Rock is the penultimate song on the London Calling album, and a rare live version appeared at the Acklam Hall in London on 26th of December, 1979.

The Harder They Come

I think this was just the inspiration, or partly, for The Guns Of Brixton, as it gets mentioned in the song. The film (starring Jimmy Cliff) was also very popular at the time and is Paul Simonon's favourite movie (and he wrote The Guns Of Brixton).

Police & Thieves

The original version of this song is very different from the Clash version. Much more relaxed. Junior Murvin's singing is very high-pitched, as Joe mentions to the crowd (and does a silly impersonation) on the Bronx City Rockers CD. This is a great song, and though (as usual) the Clash version is probably better this version has a certain charm about it. The Clash's version you can find on both UK and US versions of The Clash, The Story Of The Clash and Clash On Broadway. For a good live playing, well, there aren't really any bad ones. I like the one on Bonds 1981.

Bad Weed, Grumblin' Dub, Magic Touch, Soldier And Police Ware

These are Lee Perry remixes of Police & Thieves. Great if you like dub, a bit boring and repetitive if you don't. I think they are pretty cool. Lee 'Scratch' Perry, as well as co-writing Police & Thieves, also produced Complete Control for The Clash.

A Quarter Pound Of L'Cense

I am clueless about this track. I'm not sure what Clash song it influenced or anything. I keep meaning to e-mail Jerome and ask him about it but I'll leave it here and see if anyone writes in with some information.

...And luckily, someone did. Sukwoon Noh of Radio Clash - "It is a song that Joe played during his 1999 tour with the Mescaleros so technically not a Clash "cover"."

Look Here

This instantly reminds me of the theme tune to Frasier. It's just that kind of piano playing. Always expect Kelsey Grammer to start singing. Anyway, it's a funny old song, and The Clash did it justice in their cover on Sandinista! Wonder what made them decide to cover this though?

Junco Partner

A great version of this song! I think this is a version that came later than The Clash's one. Junco Partner was always credited to 'Unknown', so this could be the original or not. I always thought it was a Clash/Dread composition. Anyway it's a very upbeat version, and is also faster than the Clash one. Sadly it cuts off after 3:24 before the song has finished. A good live Junco Partner is on From London To Jamaica. Thore Ottershagen offers some more insights into the history of this song:

I think this song is also on the Elgin Avenue Breakdown album by the 101'ers - which of course features Joe Strummer - and was released in 1975/76, so obviously it is older than The Clash. Also, Armagideon Times, which I agree is superbly played by The clash. This song exists in a haunting version live on the 'Concert For The People Of Kampuchea' double vinyl album and is also included in the movie from the concert.

Blitzkrieg Bop

Ah, the Ramones' classic. The Clash only covered this live, the best version being on the aptly named Blitzkrieg Live CD. They kicked into it after Police & Thieves and the same track is also hidden on the official Rockers Galore promo.

Hit The Road Jack

This was also only covered live by the band, and it's on the Up And At 'Em compilation, with Pearl Harbour on vocals. A version exists with Joe on vocals from 7th March, 1980 in New York but I don't have that.

Pressure Drop

By this stage you might be thinking, which songs did The Clash actually write!? They were certainly very keen to embrace other people's work and add their own unique blend of rock and roll to it, and often the results were superior to the originals. Or as Joe put it "...bring our own music to the party..." The original Pressure Drop is more relaxed but there's not a lot of difference between them. Pressure Drop was a live rarity, and I don't have any live versions as yet.

Wrong 'Em Boyo

Another great song. "Wrong 'Em Boyo, start allover again." It's fascinating hearing all the originals after hearing The Clash versions. You can really appreciate that The Clash would never just simply produce a carbon copy. This version is a bit more relaxed and slower. The studio version is on the London Calling album, and a good live playing is on the Bronx City Rockers CD.

Johnny Too Bad

This is the song Paul is listening to when he's lying on the bed in Rude Boy. It was performed live on the busking tour. The best source is Edinburgh Coasters Disco, 14th May 1985, which I do not have.

Every Little Bit Hurts

I never liked this song. It's quite painful to listen to Mick Jones wailing it. At least he gives it a shot I suppose, but I always skip it. This version is much the same. Quite drawn out and tiresome. Maybe I'm being too harsh. Anyway, it's on Clash On Broadway and not surprisingly, was never performed live. I doubt any Clash audience would have appreciated it!

Brand New Cadillac

Now this is more like it. Classic 50s rock and roll about big cars. An excellent song, and The Clash version (which is on London Calling and Clash On Broadway) is also great. It was also performed live quite a lot, and a good version is on The Right Profile.

Fujiyama Mama

Pearl Harbour sings this with The Clash on the Tokyo Riot CD. Quite a fun song. Very funky, though the vocals on this version are a bit harsh to say the least. Bit of a strange song, especially the lyrics.

Armagideon Time

Now Armagideon Time is a superb song, and The Clash's version is truly excellent. The original by Willie Williams and Jackie Mittoo is, again, more relaxed and slower paced, but still great. Often thought as a Clash composition because they did it so well. It's on Story Of and 'On Broadway. It was originally the b-side to the London Calling single, and the 12 inch featured a truly amazing 8 minute dub fest called Justice Tonight / Kick It Over, which thank the Lord, you can get on Super Black Market Clash. A good live version of Armagideon Time is on the official live album, but other good ones are on This Is Live Clash and From London To Jamaica.


Many names were thought up for the name of this compilation. Covers Rock was picked as the best one. Snoh created a similar compilation called Clash City Covers.

Thanks to Jerome De Greef for the copy of this.

Here is some extra info on some of the songs, thanks to Chris Ratliff:

"Junco Partner" is a traditional New Orleans tune, recorded by many musicians there (Dr. John, James Booker, Professor Longhair, etc.). The Angola mentioned in the song is Angola State Prison in Louisana. Many Mose Allison songs were done by rock n' roll bands, most famously the Who included "Young Man Blues" in the their set lists for many years. Wanda Jackson's "Fujiyama Mama", ironically, was a big hit in Japan back in '58 or '59.