The Clash

(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais

Composed by Joe Strummer / Mick Jones

Song Review by

Certainly before there was the British wave of ska in the late '70s/early '80s, the Clash had already experimented with the thick bass line and choppy guitar configuration that define punky reggae. "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais" may have actually been the first song to merge punk and reggae. The guitar comes in stinging, but soon it moves over to place Joe Strummer's vocal front and center (maybe that wasn't intentional, as the Clash sessions from which this song and others from the early period came were famous for being poorly recorded) alongside Paul Simonon's loping bass. The lyric was inspired by Strummer's visit to a reggae "All Niter" at the famous London venue Hammersmith Palais. He was disappointed with a Dilinger and Leroy Smart performance, so he took the opportunity to review it in a song. He also took the opportunity to dis his fellows in punk rock ("turning rebellion into money"), and of course his government and its people. But he never missed an opportunity to poke fun at himself, the white man in the Palais. Self-deprecation is a Clash song quality which was often overlooked, but ultimately won them many fans; misinterpreters thought the band took themselves "too seriously."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Clash 1977 Legacy / Epic 4:00
Story of the Clash, Vol. 1 1988 Epic/Legacy 4:01
Clash on Broadway 1991 Epic / Epic/Legacy / Legacy 3:58
The Singles 1991 Legacy / Epic 4:01
From Here to Eternity: Live 1999 Sony Music Distribution 4:28
The Clash/London Calling/Combat Rock [2000] 2000 Epic / Sony Music Distribution 4:00
No Image 2000
Me Without You [Original Soundtrack] 2002
Original Soundtrack
Sony Music Distribution / Epic/Sony/Legacy 3:59
The Essential Clash 2003 Legacy 4:01
No Image 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Pearl Harbour '79 2004 CBS Records 4:00
Classics from John Peel's All Time Festive 50 2006
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 3:58
The Singles [Box Set] 2006 Sony BMG 1:02
Give 'Em Enough Rope/The Clash 2007 CBS Records 4:00
Live: Revolution Rock 2008 Sony Music Distribution
Hits Back 2013 Sony Music / Sony Music Entertainment
T2: Trainspotting [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] 2017
Original Soundtrack
Interscope / Polydor 4:01
blue highlight denotes editor's pick