The Clash vs. Cheap Trick – Ultimate Classic Rock Hall of Fame, Round One
How is a rock fan supposed to choose between Rockford, Ill.’s favorite sons and the only band that matters? We aren’t sure we could, to be honest with you, but that hasn’t stopped us from forcing you to pick by pitting Cheap Trick against the Clash in our latest round of the 100 percent fan-voted Ultimate Classic Rock Hall of Fame.
Both bands were members of the freshman class of 1977, releasing self-titled debut records in the first few months of the year, and they both experienced early struggles as members of the CBS Records family. ‘Cheap Trick’ failed to chart, while the New York office’s failure to see any commercial potential in ‘The Clash’ meant it was initially only available in U.S. stores as an import. But brighter days lay ahead: Cheap Trick’s 1979 live album ‘At Budokan‘ turned them into superstars, and the Clash’s ‘London Calling’ double LP, released the same year as ‘Budokan,’ brought them their first U.S. platinum sales and Top 40 success.
Like many of their peers, Cheap Trick and the Clash had their share of struggles over the following decade, battling band turnover, changing trends, and creative malaise in their efforts to maintain a grip on the charts. Cheap Trick endured a particularly bumpy stretch between 1983-6, releasing three consecutive sales disappointments (‘Next Position Please,’ ‘Standing on the Edge,’ and ‘The Doctor’) before opting to make a few commercially-minded adjustments to their sound and rebounding with the more radio-friendly ‘Lap of Luxury’ in 1988. The Clash, meanwhile, had already imploded by this point, parting ways with drummer Topper Headon and main songwriter Mick Jones before singer Joe Strummer and bassist Joe Simonon limped through 1985’s half-hearted ‘Cut the Crap’ and called it quits early the following year.
Cheap Trick remain active today, steadily touring and releasing the occasional album of new material (their most recent LP, ‘The Latest,’ came out in 2009), while the Clash remain one of the more influential groups of the rock era — even after Strummer’s death in 2002 — with a steadily growing legacy burnished by a series of archival releases that includes 2013’s massive 12-disc ‘Sound System‘ box. Unfortunately, only one of them can make it past this round of voting, and Ultimate Classic Rock readers have to be the ones to decide.
So which of them gets your vote for the UCR Hall of Fame? We don’t envy your tough decision, but don’t worry — you can vote once an hour between now and Sunday, July 13 at 11:59PM EST, so feel free to divvy them up however you see fit. The next inductee will be announced on August 1. Be sure to read our official rules.