The Clash

The Magnificent Seven

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Song Review by Donald A. Guarisco

By the time they recorded Sandinista!, the members of the Clash were spending a lot of time in New York City and found themselves exposed to the burgeoning hip-hop scene. As a result, the streetwise lyrics and funky rhythms of this genre found their way into the Clash’s ever-evolving sound. A great example of the Clash’s experiments in this area is "The Magnificent Seven," a fun excursion into rap that was inspired by the work of the Sugarhill Gang. The witty lyrics comment on the daily drudgery that working men suffer through to finance their dream of a better life ("working for a rise, better my station/Take my baby to sophistication"). They also playfully add some historical figures into the equation near the song’s end via lines like "Socrates and Milhous Nixon/Both went out the same way -through the kitchen." It’s a very wordy set of lyrics but the music cruises through them at a steady clip thank to a fast paced melody that intersperses to staccato, sing-song verse melodies with a ‘football chant’-styled chorus. The Clash’s recording of "The Magnificent Seven" enhances the drive of the music by building its arrangement on relentlessly-grooving funk bass loop and adding dub-styled echoed percussion, funky rhythm guitar riffs and jazzy piano licks to give it plenty of R&B-flavored atmosphere. Joe Strummer tops it off with a vocal that delivers the twisty lyrics with plenty of energy and good cheer. The result was a Clash song that sounded just as good in a disco as it would at a rock club - the Clash took note of this and prepared a special instrumental 12-inch version for club play that was entitled "The Magnificent Dance."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Rockers Galore 1977 Epic / Legacy 5:33
Sandinista! 1980 Legacy / Epic 5:33
Story of the Clash, Vol. 1 1988 Epic / Legacy 4:29
Mixed Masters 1988 AVI (REISSUES) 0:00
Clash on Broadway 1991 Epic / Legacy 5:33
The Singles 1991 Legacy / Epic 4:29
Lost Property 1996
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:28
Studio 54: The Underground Classics 2001 Import 3:58
Mastercuts: Bar Social, Vol. 2 2002
Various Artists
Mastercuts 4:43
The Essential Clash 2003 Legacy / Sony Music Distribution 5:33
The Singles [Box Set] 2006 Sony BMG 4:29
Hits Back 2013 Sony Music 5:32
Sound System 2013 Sony Legacy / Sony Music 5:33