The Clash’s first foray into hip-hop, “The Magnificent Seven,” recorded live on the Tomorrow Show With Tom Snyder in 1981. Originally on Sandinista! (1980), the official Clash website explains:
In April 1980, The Clash booked into a New York studio without any new songs to record. But inspired by the city’s exciting new rap scene, headed by the Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash, the group set about creating the funky Magnificent Seven – which became the first ever rap record made by a British act. When it was released a year later, Mick Jones’ remix of the track, The Magnificent Dance, became a big hit on the black radio station WBLS in New York, and a subsequently huge influence on dance music.
What’s that you say? You want to hear the remix? Of course you do. Ladies and gentlemen, “The Magnificent Dance”:
According to The Clash Wiki, it was Joe Strummer’s idea to record a rap track; he essentially improvised the lyrics on the spot and the entire song was recorded in about two hour’s time. Still, the song echoes familiar themes of Thatcher/Reagan-era desperation:
Ring! Ring! It’s 7:00 A.M.!
Move y’self to go again
Cold water in the face
Brings you back to this awful place
Knuckle merchants and you bankers, too
Must get up an’ learn those rules …
Working for a rise, better my station
Take my baby to sophistication
She’s seen the ads, she thinks it’s nice
Better work hard – I seen the price
Never mind that it’s time for the bus
We got to work – an’ you’re one of us
Clocks go slow in a place of work
Minutes drag and the hours jerk …
So get back to work an’ sweat some more
The sun will sink an’ we'll get out the door
It’s no good for man to work in cages
Hits the town, he drinks his wages
You’re frettin’, you're sweatin’
But did you notice you ain’t getting’?
Yeah, you know what? I still notice I ain’t gettin’. Funny how the things they wrote back then apply so perfectly to the Great Recession.
And by funny, of course, I mean existentially depressing. But it’s got a great beat.
So, there you go. You’re Friday Clash Song. What’ve we got? Magnificence!
Turn. It. Up.