Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Clash - Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg


The Clash – Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg
(soniclovenoize reconstruction)


Side A:
1.  Straight To Hell
2.  Know Your Rights
3.  Rock The Casbah
4.  Red Angel Dragnet

Side B:
5.  Should I Stay Or Should I Go
6.  Ghetto Defendant
7.  Sean Flynn

Side C:
8.  Car Jamming
9.  The Fulham Connection
10.  Atom Tan
11.  First Night Back in London

Side D:
12.  Inoculated City
13.  Death is a Star
14.  Cool Confusion
15.  Idle in Kangaroo Court W1



A blog-follower request, this is a reconstruction of the unreleased Clash album Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg.   Originally conceived as a double-album by guitarist Mick Jones who had tried to harness more creative control of the band, Rat Patrol was eventually skimmed down and remixed into a more commercial single-disc, their seminal 1982 album Combat Rock.  Unlike other Rat Patrol bootlegs, this reconstruction follows Mick Jones’ actual track order found on his rough cut of the double-album.  Also my reconstruction uses a number of sources to provide the most complete, pristine and dynamic album possible, including remastered bootleg tracks and a needledrop vinyl rip of an original pressing of Combat Rock.  As always, all tracks are volume adjusted for a cohesive listening experience. 

By the early 1980s, the cracks in The Clash had begun to form.  Coming off their daring 1980 triple-album Sandinista!, work began on their fifth album in late 1981 at a London rehearsal space, demoing new material with a mobile multitrack set-up.  While Clash frontman  Joe Strummer hoped for a more commercial and concise single album of roots-rock, guitarist Mick Jones wished to continue the world beat influence of their previous album, pushing the envelope to his current tastes in dub, reggae and American hip-hop.  Temporarily shelving their differences, The Clash embarked on a tour and residency to road-test the new material.  During this period, the band embraced images and concepts associated with the Vietnam War—or at least the Vietnam War as seen through the Hollywood lens.  They also embraced elements of urban American culture, even as much as having graffiti artist Futura 2000 paint the backdrop of their tour.  Blending this ‘ghetto’ and Vietnam War imagery together, they created an aesthetic of “urban warfare” which was perpetuated in Joe Strummers lyrics for the new material.  Was this perhaps a metaphor for the band’s own internal warfare? 

Reconvening in New York’s Electric Ladyland Studios in late 1981—Mick’s choice as he felt that was the center of modern musical activity—The Clash got to work recording the album proper, led by Jones’ vision of a more funk/reggae/dub-inspired sound and fueled by Topper Headon’s appropriately globalized drumming.  Sides were drawn as Headon’s heroin addiction led to his own perception as being an outcast in the group and sided with Jones, leaving Joe Strummer and bassist Paul Simonon (who felt he had been forced to take a creative backseat) to unite on the other side of the battle field and vie for a single disc punk record.    As sessions progressed, the songs became longer—an obvious dub influence—and  despite Strummer’s worries that they needed a single-LP for CBS Records to properly promote the album, the project was steadily becoming yet another double album, possibly doomed to distribution limbo.  The situation amounted to running two studio rooms simultaneously so both Strummer and Jones could work independently on their vocals and guitar overdubs respectively, without having to actually interact with each other. 

Just before leaving to tour Asia in early 1982, Mick Jones prepared his vision of the double album, provisionally titled Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg.  Long-winded, indulgent and sometimes even superfluous, the album contained 15 songs and ran over 65 minutes—and that was excluding at least four outtakes (“Overpowered By Funk”, “Walk Evil Walk”, “Midnight To Stevens” and “Long Time Jerk” did not make the cut on Jones’ sequence).  The rest of the band hated it and Joe Strummer championed to have the album remixed and edited into a more commercial product.  Strummer’s wishes eventually won and producer Glynn Johns was brought in to fix the album (note this is the third time this blog has covered an Album That Never Was that Glyn Johns was supposed to produce and/or clean-up, including The Beatles Get Back and The Who’s Lifehouse!!). 

That April, Strummer and Johns reviewed the material at Wessex Studios in London and remixed the songs to emphasize its guitar elements and begin whittling the songs down to their basic necessity, eliminating their unneeded near raga-lengths.  “Know Your Rights”, “Red Angel Dragnet”, “Ghetto Defendant”, “Sean Flynn” and “Inoculated City” all lost approximately two minutes each.  The songs earmarked as singles, “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” and “Rock The Casbah” (the later actually referencing the raga-lengths of the Rat Patrol songs), were treated to new vocal tracks.  Four songs, “The Fulham Connection”, “First Night Back In London”, “Cool Confusion” and “Idle In Kangaroo Court W1”, were dropped entirely, while “Overpowered By Funk” was curiously added back into the running order.  Despite Mick Jones and allegations that his art had been tampered with, the album was appropriately retitled to Combat Rock and CBS Records had their more commercial, single-disc album, rush-released that May. 

Even though the more concise album was commercially successful—both “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and “Rock The Casbah” became hits—the cracks in The Clash were too deep to be fixed.  Topper was removed from the band due to his excessive heroin addiction in May, the month Combat Rock was released; Mick was fired from the band the following year.  Both Jones and Headon went on to form Big Audio Dynamite, who was more reminiscent of the world-beat hybrid found on Rat Patrol, while Strummer and Simonon continued the Clash and recorded their final album ironically titled Cut The Crap (which was later disavowed by all band members).  But luckily through bootlegs and an assortment of bonus tracks and compilations, we are able to reconstruct what this less-commercial and raga-like Combat Rock would have been—what turned out to be The Clash’s unreleased swansong.

The overall primary concern for this Rat Patrol is sound quality.  While Mick Jones’ original mix of the album is available on bootlegs, they are usually sourced from a highly generated cassette; because of this, I occasionally chose to use the Combat Rock versions of some tracks rather than the bootlegged Mick Jones mixes for the sake of a pleasurable listening experience.  Luckily, fairly pristine versions of Jones’ mixes of “Rock The Casbah”, “Straight To Hell” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go” can be found on bootlegs, an alternate source than the muffled cassettes.  Likewise, the long Mick Jones mixes of “Ghetto Defendant” and “Sean Flynn” are found on the Sound System boxset.  The remaining tracks are sourced from a needledrop vinyl rip of Combat Rock by kel bazaar, which is the most pristine and dynamic version of the album I’ve heard.  We will also use the actual tracklist from Mick Jones’s master, which omits “Overpowered by Funk” and “Walk Evil Walk”. 

Side A begins with Mick Jones’ original mix of “Straight To Hell” taken from the bootleg Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg on Redline Records.  It sounded a bit crusty so I personally re-EQd it to match the EQ parameters found on the vinyl rip of Combat Rock used elsewhere on this reconstruction.  Following is the shorter Glyn Johns mix of “Know Your Rights” from the vinyl rip of Combat Rock.  Mick’s very different original mix of “Rock The Casbah” is next, taken from the bootleg Another Combat Rock, again re-EQed to match the parameters of the album version.  The side concludes with “Red Angel Dragnet” from the vinyl rip of Combat Rock, again choosing the shorter album version; note if we had used the longer mixes, side A would have been ridiculously longer than the other sides anyways!  Side B opens with Mick’s mix of “Should I Stay or Should I Go” taken from Another Combat Rock, again reEQd to match the album version.  Closing disc one is Mick’s long mixes of “Ghetto Defendant” and “Sean Flynn”, taken from the Sound System box set.

Side C begins with “Car Jamming” from Combat Rock, being that the Johns and Jones mixes were fairly similar.  “The Fulham Connection”, also known and released as “The Beautiful People Are Ugly Too”, is taken from the Sound System box set.  Next is “Atom Tan” from Combat Rock (again not too different from its original mix) followed by “First Night Back in London” from the Sound System box set.  Side C starts with the unedited Combat Rock version of “Inoculated City” which features the original ’2000 Flushes’ sample, albeit not the long Mick’s version.  Next is “Death is a Star”, again from Combat Rock.  “Cool Confusion” from the box set follows, with the album finishing on the goony “Idle in Kangaroo Court W1” also known and bootlegged as “Kill Time”. 

The final aspect is the cover image chosen myself, the famed photograph of the execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém in 1968.  While it may be either clichéd or insensitive by 2014 standards, this photograph would have been controversial in 1982 and I felt that it accurately communicated the lyrical references to the Vietnam War and the notion of “urban warfare” contained in Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg.


Lossless FLAC (part 1, part 2)


Sources used:
Another Combat Rock (CD Bootleg, 2003 Darkside Records)
Combat Rock (1981 Dutch vinyl pressing, kel bazaar rip)
Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg (CD bootleg, 2003 Redline Records)
Sound System (2014 CD box set)


flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR, Goldwave and Audacity --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
*md5, artwork and tracknotes included

33 comments:

  1. Thanks for this one SLN, it will make a useful 'hi-fi' alternative to my own completely bootleg-derived version. One thing though, I'm surprised you didn't use the 'Clash On Broadway' version of 'Straight to Hell' as that is the full-length version in primo sound quality. I will probably substitute this track before I burn to disc to be honest. I'm afraid I won't be using your cover either, which is rather too disturbing for my delicate sensibilities!

    By contrast, my own latest project has been 'Works' by Yes, which compiles tracks from the five 'solo' LPs the band issued in 1975/76. I constructed six roughly 20 minute 'suites' utilizing all the tracks from these albums that I felt were good enough / 'Yes-like' enough for inclusion. The result is something rather more satisfying than listening to the original albums in their entirety (besides 'Olias', which is excellent). The title is - of course - inspired by ELP's similar collection of mostly 'solo' works and I've even created a parody of the 'Works Volume 1' sleeve, substituting the names Anderson, Howe, Squire, Moraz & White and the Yes logo for the ELP names and logo! The tracklist, if anyone gives a hoot, is as follows:

    Side 1:
    a) Ocean Song - 3:05
    b) Impressions (The Dream) - 2:49
    c) Spring Song of Innocence - 5:02
    d) Avakak - 6:55

    Side 2:
    a) Hold Out Your Hand – 4:13
    b) Solid Space – 5:21
    c) The Nature of the Sea – 3:57
    d) To The Runner – 4:29

    Side 3:
    a) Impact > Warmer Hands > The Storm 7:54
    b) Moon Ra / Chords / Song of Search – 12:48

    Side 4:
    a) Beginnings - 7:31
    b) Silently Falling – 11:27

    Side 5:
    a) Qoquaq Ën Transic / Naon / Transic Tö – 7:08
    b) Marching Into a Bottle - 2:00
    c) Break Away From It All – 4:19
    d) Symphony in the Space - 2:56

    Side 6:
    a) Doors of Sleep – 4:08
    b) Safe (Canon Song) – 14:56
    c) Ram - 1:54

    The songs on each side are carefully selected to enable sympathetic cross-fading and to then create the feeling of a series of suites. I highly recommend all Yes fans have a go at compiling their own version of this, it was hugely satisfying for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe that the bootleg that I took Straight To Hell from actually took theirs from The Clash On Broadway, so it's the same!

      Also, I stand by my choice for the cover, I really felt it set the tone for this album. But because I am a people-pleaser, here is a quick alternate cover art I made that one could use instead:
      http://tinypic.com/r/23v0x11/8

      But it is of interest that my research has led me to believe the actual original cover art of Rat Patrol was designed by Futura 2000, and an extreme close-up of it's detail is featured as the back cover of Combat Rock. The orignal full-sized painting can be found in a book of his art titled "Futura". Unfortunately, I was not able to locate a copy of the book so if anyone has access to that orignal artwork--or can confirm this in general--then feel free to post it!

      Delete
    2. Sydfloyd, would you be so kind as to upload and post a link to your Yes Works album. I would definitely appreciate it.

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. Another great job sound and selection-wise, but I agree with the previous commenter about the cover.

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    Replies
    1. I disagree with cover criticism. Look at Give em Enough Rope. This is the Clash, not the bloody Teletubbies.

      Great work.

      Delete
  4. Other Sugestions:
    - The Small Faces - 1862
    - Van Morrison - Mechanical Bliss
    - The Who - Naked Eye
    - The Pretty Things - Phillipe DeBarge
    - Yes - Works

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh,and:
      Iggy and the Stooges - 4th Album
      Derek And The Dominoes - 2nd Album
      Steely Dan - The Last Gaucho

      Delete
    2. I'd love to hear sonic's take on a final Small Faces album!

      The Phillipe DeBarge album did finally get released at one point.

      Delete
  5. Hey SydFloyd,

    Could you somehow post a link to your Yes Works album on here? I don't have a copy of Ramshakled.

    With regards to the Clash mix, it was ok, but I felt it fizzled out towards the end. Not a dramatic departure from Combat Rock really. The album I've been playing a lot of late is Soniclovenoize's Lifehouse. Now this really IS a departure from Who's Next and in many ways a much better album.

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  6. Thank you and thanks for the alternative cover as well.

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  7. Super Cool!
    I appreciate your hard work. Even if I don't care for the band/artist, I always enjoy seeing what you've done.

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  8. Hey soniclovenoize!Really cool pick on that one!I made my own mix keeping the "comerciality" of Combat Rock and using it's mixes,it goes like this:
    Side A
    1.The Fullham Connection
    2.Kill Time
    3.Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
    4.Rock The Casbah
    5.Know Your Rights
    Side B
    1.Red Angel Dragnet
    2.Ghetto Defendant
    3.Midnight To Stevens
    4.Hell W10
    5.Car Jamming
    Side C
    1.Innoculated City
    2.Death Is A Star
    3.Sean Flynn
    4.Atom Tan
    5.Overpowered By Funk
    Side D
    1.Long Time Jerk
    2.First Night Back In London
    3.Radio Clash
    4.Cool Confusion
    5.Straight To Hell

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  9. Remember seeing this guy shot on TV, the army guy ended up owning a bar or restaurant in America.

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  10. Thank you very much. This will be interesting. I always enjoy your reconstructions, and the thoughts behind them. By the way, it's Kel Bazar, not Bazaar for the vinyl rip.

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  11. I feel the ones objecting to your artwork have no grasp of Punk Rock.

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  12. I think we're all past being shocked by the punk ethos, aren't we? Maybe back then, this cover would have had a Dead Kennedy's-type value to it, but in this context it just looks all wrong. It could have been worse - you might have used the napalmed little girl - but whatever political resonance this image had (the only excuse for its use) has been exhausted.

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  13. Fascinating blog here. Just found you courtesy of Gyro at TwilightZone. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with. Thanks for all your hard work, and special thanks for offering both Flac and HQ mp3 options.

    -Xtm

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  14. New favorite.

    Steely Dan - The Last Gaucho
    R.E.M - any unreleased album made from demos? / unreleased tracks?
    Iggy and the Stooges 4th Album?

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  15. Oh yeah, a Stooges 4th would be fantastic.

    -Xtm

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  16. Good recreation as usual. Another future project you might want to consider is Robert Fripp's planned trilogy of his "Exposure" album along with Daryl Hall's "Sacred Songs" and Peter Gabriel's second album (aka Scratch)

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  17. What about an upgrade and best sounding version of The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday by Phish?

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  18. The cover art doesn't bother me. It's punk. It's Straight to Hell.

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  19. great comp of "lost" clash album; like the fact that it followed Mick Jones's tracklist. as to Combat Rock being seminal . . . not so much; London Calling, yes, but Combat Rock was more of a last gasp

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  20. Electric Ladyland = album
    Electric Lady = studio

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  21. this looks like it should be great. your WOIIFTM is the best version I've ever heard, btw.

    thanks!

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  22. Hey, soniclovenoize, what about the real Cream "Goodbye" album, with the same format as Wheels Of Fire. Those are the tracks I chose for the studio disc:
    Side A
    1.Never Tell Your Mother She's Out of Tune
    2.Theme for an Imaginary Western
    3.What a Bringdown
    4.Presence Of The Lord
    5.Doing That Scrapyard Thing
    Side B
    1.Badge
    2.Rope Ladder to the Moon
    3.Tickets to Water Falls
    4.The Ministry Of Rag
    And for the live one:
    Side C
    1.Deserted Cities of the Heart
    2.White Room
    3.N.S.U.
    4.Tales of Brave Ulysses
    Side D
    1.I’m So Glad
    2.Sleepy Time Time
    3.Politician

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cool idea. I would have included "The Clearout" here, since Cream actually attempted that song at one point and I think it would have been a natural for them.

      Delete
  23. what if you made an alternate history of Soundgarden (Where they made one more album before breaking up in 1998 - thus retconning "King Animal" - here's my tracklist:

    Soundgarden – Album after 1997

    1. Black Rain
    2. The Telephantasm
    3. Night Surf
    4. Kristi
    5. Taree
    6. Live to Rise
    7. Twin Tower
    8. Flutter Girl
    9. Toy Box
    10. Jerry Garcia’s Finger
    11. Birth Ritual
    12. Rowing

    Or make a version of the "4-Track" Demo

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  24. i second that stooges 4th suggestion. and thanks for all your work - appreciated.

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  25. Good recreation. I'm not a big fan of Clash, but I heard some of their albums. But anyway... I have a request. What if The Beatles had released the White Album as a single disc, as George Martin intended? And also, if they would have released as a single disc, then it would have been more songs for Yellow Submarine for the other side, like their others soundtrack albums. Anyway, this blog is great and I really appreciate the work you're doing. Thank you very much.

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  26. This is an intresting blog that you have posted, you shares a lot of things about Security Officers,Security Guards and Mobile Patrols.Which are very informative for us.Thanks

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  27. I'm also not a huge Clash fan, but I do occasionally like them. This reconstruction is probably the best Clash album as far as I'm concerned. Great job! I look forward to checking out more of your work!

    ReplyDelete