The Clash: “English Civil War (Johnny Comes Marching Home)” (1979)

Hey, Paul McCartney had a hit with “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” so why not this?

Kronomyth 2.2: March or die. Or both.

Yes, I get the irony. But when all is said and done, you’re still listening to a punk version of “Johnny Comes Marching Home.” Which, I suppose, is no more or less boring than a punk version of “I Fought the Law.” Or a punk version of Toots and the Maytals. Take your pick.

The Clash were capable of so much more than this. Yet someone at CBS decided that English Civil War and “Tommy Gun” would make great singles. I hope that person was demoted to doing promotions for Barbra Streisand’s Wet album. Pressure Drop, a nonalbum track that eventually turned up on Black Market Clash, is the better track if only because they were starting with better material. I prefer the original version by Toots and the Maytals, but there’s a measure of fun in hearing Joe Strummer’s taunting rendition. The Specials did a neat version of this song too where you can actually understand the lyrics.

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Original 7-inch single version

A1. English Civil War (Johnny Comes Marching Home) (Traditional, arranged by Joe Strummer/Mick Jones) (2:35)
B1. Pressure Drop (Frederick Hibbert) (3:25)

The Players

Nicky Headon (drums), Mick Jones (guitar), Paul Simonon (bass), Joe Strummer (vocals). [FYI, these are taken from the picture sleeve.]

The Pictures

Picture from “Animal Farm,” directed by John Halas and Joy Batchelor.

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch single in February 1979 in the UK (CBS, S CBS 7082) and Germany (CBS, CBS S 7082) with regional picture sleeve; reached #25 on the UK charts (charted on March 3, 1979 for 6 weeks).

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