Mick Jones, back when everybody thought he was cool

Born today in 1955: Clash guitarist/vocalist Mick Jones. I feel badly for Mick, and not just because of his scarifying English teeth. Although he was co-leader of the Clash — once known as “The Only Band That Matters” and still untouchably hip 30 years after hitting the scene — history has cast him as McCartney to Joe Strummer’s John Lennon. Conventional wisdom has it that Strummer was the band’s conscience, standing firm in defense of punk-rock purity, while Jones was the sellout who craved pop success.

And certainly it’s true that “Train in Vain” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go” — two of the Clash’s least political and (not coincidentally) most popular songs — were Mick’s doing. On the other hand, when Jones was forced out after Combat Rock, Strummer’s Clash proceeded to make the laughable Cut the Crap. So while the comparison may be apt, it’s just as much a mistake to underestimate Jones’s contribution to the Clash as it is to underestimate Paul’s contribution to the Beatles.

In this schematic Big Audio Dynamite is Wings, and that seems about right. Don Letts=Linda McCartney? Could be.) The Globe would be Band on the Run, No. 10 Upping Street would be Ram or somesuch…well, why get carried away with this thing. The point is, give Mick his propers today. A listening of London Calling wouldn’t be a bad idea; but then again, it never is.