That Crazy Casbah Sound
“Rock the Casbah” is, hands down, the Clash’s worst song. It’s funny and interesting and it’s got cool sound effects and it’s sort-of-but-not-really offensive—which are all good things—but it’s not actually good in any way. It’s shit. You love it and so do I, but it is not aurally pleasing. And it’s completely un-Clash-like. I don’t know what it is— punk-rock-funk-soul-disco fusion? That sounds like a recipe for crap. Give me “Lost in the Supermarket” any day. The best thing about the song are the lyrics I’d been mistakenly hearing for years. Joe Strummer, quite Britishly, garbles his articles, so until they invented the Internets, I (rightly) believed the song was a tale of an Arab sheik’s fatwah against rock music that (wrongly) gave a shout-out to Omar Sharif (who doesn’t like it) and the grammatically incorrect, non-sequiturial declaration of Jewish dietary laws: “Pigs is not kosher.” (Dang.) It’s kind of disappointing to learn the lyrics are only about a sheik bombing discos.
Anyway, I remember hearing that G.I. D.J.s played the song over G.I. Radio as the first bombs over Baghdad were dropped in the Gulf War, which only makes me wonder if OutKast’s “B.O.B.” inaugurated the sequel. Probably. Sigh.
Best moment: The freakin’ laser beams (@ 2:32).
Nifty, breathy electronica cover: “Rock the Casbah” by Solar Twins, from the Brokedown Palace soundtrack.
Catchy but stupid mashup: “Clash Killers” by Party Ben (The Killers’ “Somebody Told Me” vs. the Clash’s “Rock the Casbah”)