Pretty Green

‘Complete Control’: The Clash vs. The Charlatans

You control it! Which ‘Complete Control’ do you prefer: the Clash’s third single or the Charlatans’ late b-side?

The Clash – Complete Control

The Clash’s ‘Complete Control’ is all about the band’s experience with their conniving label, CBS Records. ‘They said we’d be artistically free when we signed that bit of paper,’ scoffs Joe Strummer, but that wasn’t the case at all; the song lists the various ways CBS manipulated the band. Like many Clash songs, this one is scathing and powerful. The video above is a live version of the song which is originally found on their eponymous 1977 debut. Maybe Morrissey should take a cue from the Clash and write an entire album about getting screwed by record labels!

The Charlatans – Complete Control

Unlike the Clash, the Charlatans didn’t clearly define their target in ‘Complete Control.’ What makes their song more devastating is the poppy electro heartbeat and the swirling New Orderesque synths. Even the echoing vocals are similar to Bernard Sumner’s. In fact, it’s so infectiously happy that it takes some time for the defiant lyrics to sink in. ‘I want complete control. I’m tired of being told what to do by idiots like you.’ You’ll find this song as a b-side to ‘Mis-Takes.’

Britpopping since I first heard 'Animal Nitrate' in 1993

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