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Boy About Town Number 31: If The Kids Are United


Chapter by Chapter excerpts from Boy About Town: A Memoir, published by Windmill Books/William Heinemann.

The Clash had made up for their self-caricature with their next single ‘(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais’, which took the reggae concept of ‘Police and Thieves’ and then turned up the volume and energy for four full minutes, the likes of which nobody had ever heard before. Lyrically too, it strode new ground, Joe Strummer name-checking all manner of reggae stars while simultaneously berating punk groups in Burton suits (The Jam, we presumed) and suggesting that Britain was moving so far to the right that ‘if Adolf Hitler flew in today, they’d send a limousine anyway’. ‘(White Man)’ wasn’t a hit, of course; it was far too original, too confrontational, too musically and lyrically threatening to get Radio 1 airplay . . . Unlike Sham 69’s follow-up to ‘Angels’, the even more ridiculous terrace chant ‘If the Kids Are United’ (. . . ‘they will never be divided’), which Radio 1 played so bloody often that it soon went Top Ten. By the time Sham 69 played Reading, they could lay claim to being the biggest band on the bill.

I can’t bear the show the song relating to this particular chapter title; here’s the other one referenced above, instead.

Visit the Boy About Town web site.

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