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The Clash On Display

Paul Simenon’s Smashed Bas
Paul Simenon’s Smashed Bass

My favourite band have become a museum piece.

Or at least, some of their instruments, clothing, lyrics, and memorabilia are in an exhibition which the Museum of London1 has been running since the fortieth anniversary of London Calling in December. I popped along today.

Clash Shirts and Guitars
Clash Shirts and Guitars

It’s small, but pretty good. The centrepiece is Paul Simenon’s smashed bass from the famous cover photo. It lies under glass on a red velvet cushion, like a fallen warrior lying in state (see above).

It’s actually kind of gruesome. “That’s no way to treat an expensive musical instrument,” as someone once said.

Joe Strummer’s White Telecaster
Joe Strummer’s White Telecaster

I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know, I don’t think. Except maybe that Joe had a backup white Telecaster, that I don’t think I’ve ever seen him use, either live, in video, or in photos. His iconic black one is in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, I believe. Or another museum.

Oh, and see the poster in that shot? “Two for a fiver”? When I bought London Calling it was only £3.99. Both times, as I’ve written about before.

Anyway, worth checking out, especially since it’s free. My main complaint: there are a lot of songs that could have been playing, even if they kept it to the relevant album. Instead they had a loop of just three (“London Calling,” “Train in Vain,” and “Clampdown,” the latter two live versions).

Big Display of the London Calling cover
Big Display of the London Calling cover

  1. Which I had never before visited, in thirty-two years living here. 

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