Working for the clampdown

The Clash, the dawn of neoliberalism and the political promise of punk

Edited by Colin Coulter

Working for the clampdown


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1421-1
  • Pages: 248
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £19.99
  • Published Date: June 2019
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Popular culture, Society & social sciences / Society & culture: general, Society & social sciences / Cultural studies, The arts / Music, Sociology, Cultural studies, MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Punk, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture, MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Rock, SOCIAL SCIENCE / General


This volume brings together a range of writers from different academic disciplines and different locations to provide an engaging and accessible critical exploration of one of the most revered and reviled bands in the history of popular music. The essays collated here locate The Clash in their own explosive cultural moment of punk's year zero and examine how the group speaks from beyond the grave to the uncanny parallels of other moments of social and political crisis. In addition, the collection considers the impact of the band in a range of different geopolitical contexts, with various contributors exploring what the band meant in settings as diverse as Italy, England, Northern Ireland, Australia and the United States. The diverse essays gathered in Working for the clampdown cast a critical light on both the cultural legacy and contemporary resonance of one of the most influential bands ever to have graced a stage.


'Working for the clampdown is an excellent piece of work. To speak personally for a brief moment: it reminded me why I love The Clash so much but also why I should continue to analyse my motives for loving them. It is intellectually challenging, wide-ranging, readable and expertly edited. In a field that remains distressingly small, it is set to inspire future critics and to make its own lasting impact.'
James Peacock, Keele University, Popular Music, Vol. 39, Issue 1 (February 2020)

'What gives this volume its strength is its unpacking of the mythological milieu around the band, not least in the complex relationship between the Clash, punk and the emerging political landscape of the late 1970s. [...] Working for the clampdown is a valuable addition to the critical examination of the political, social and aesthetic milieu of punk and, within those complex surroundings, the Clash. Its openness about its subject is refreshing, whilst its chapters are well-written and intriguing.'
Mike Dines, Middlesex University, Punk & Post-Punk, Vol. 9, Issue 1 (2020)


List of contributors

Working for the clampdown: an introduction Colin Coulter
PART I: No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones: The Clash, the politics of pop and the neoliberal conjuncture
1 The Clash, revolution and reverse Jason Toynbee
2 The Clash and musical artistry: against the corporate voice Caroline Coon
3 'Up in Heaven (not only here)': The Clash, left melancholia and the politics of redemption Colin Coulter
PART II: Back in the garage with my bullshit detector: The Clash and the Cultural Politics of Punk
4 'Are you going backwards, Or are you going forwards?' - England past and England future in 1970s punk Ruth Adams
5 Retrieving the messianic promise of punk: The Clash in 1977 Kieran Cashell
6 What if Keith Levene had never left The Clash? Punk and the politics of novelty Pete Dale
7 'The beautiful people are ugly too': The Clash as my 'true fiction' Martin James
PART III: 'It could be anywhere, Most likely could be any frontier, Any hemisphere': The Clash around the world
8 'Up and down the Westway' or 'live by the river'? Britishness, Englishness, London and The Clash Conrad Brunström
9 'Cashing in the bill of rights'? The Clash in New York, in myth and reality Harry Browne
10 The one struggle: The Clash, Gary Foley, Punk politics and Indigenous Australian activism Alessandro Moliterno
11 Brigade Rosse: The Clash, Bologna and Italian punx Giacomo Bottà and Ferruccio Quercetti


Colin Coulter is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Maynooth University, Ireland

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