Walking to work, listening to the Clash, and of all the songs on the MP3 player this one made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck:
When they kick at your front door
How you gonna come?
With your hands on your head
Or on the trigger of your gun
Punk-reggae like only the Clash could do, delivered in a slightly sinister (or perhaps despairing) monotone, a song of the outlaw of circumstance living for the moment because that’s all he has. And the backdrop to this being those days of the late 70’s and early ’80s in the UK: recession; depression; the Brixton Riots; the Front Line; the death of a young(ish) New Zealander called Blair Peach at the hands of the police (subject of another great song by Linton Kwesi Johnson).
And so, the outlaw is a black british man, in the chorus delivering a warning:
You can crush us
You can bruise us
But you’ll have to answer to
Oh, the guns of Brixton
That’s one hell of an atmospheric song. Listen.