The Clash: “Hitsville U.K.” (1981)

Mick and his girl go soft for Northern soul on the second single from Sandinista!.

Kronomyth 4.1: A mikey and boom in your living room.

This single took me down a rabbit hole about Northern Soul, or Motown for English Mods. Hitsville U.K. is an obvious reference to “Hitsville U.S.A.,” as Detroit (the home of Motown music) was known. Featuring Mick Jones and Ellen Foley (the Jones’ girlfriend) on vocals, it’s a nostalgic song with the kind of sleepy melody that grows on you over time. It didn’t exactly take the English charts by storm, but Sandinista! was an eclectic and difficult work by design.

The flip side is Radio One, credited to Clash collaborator and tourmate, Mikey Dread. It’s a clever reggae/dub song that re-creates a radio broadcast complete with playful treatments of the news and the weather. I’m not sure what hand The Clash had in it, if any, and I don’t recall seeing it anywhere else, so it’s a nice collectible to have.

Original 7-inch single version

A1. Hitsville U.K. (The Clash) (4:22)
B1. Radio One (Mikey Dread)

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch single on January 16, 1981 in the UK (CBS, CBS 9480) and Australia (Epic, ES 578). Also released as promotional 7-inch single in 1981 in the US (Epic, 19-51053). Reached #56 on the UK charts.

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