The Clash

White Riot

Composed by Mick Jones / Joe Strummer

Song Review by

Born from the race riots that occurred in London in the summer of 1976, there is a famous story about the Clash being caught in the middle of it, nearly ending up beaten in an alley. But this is no racist attack -- though it was sometimes misunderstood as such. Instead, it was a broader call to arms -- a wake-up call to a privileged white majority to be mindful of complacency and blind participation in a socioeconomic system which was rapidly failing them due to lack of interest. Ultimately, the Clash were to come to understand that they would have to pick and choose their causes a little more specifically, since "White Riot" was essentially a lyrical failure. But the musical essence of it is pure punk rock in a bottle: it's easy to drink in the three chords charged with anger, urgency, and agit-prop. It may also be one of the speediest punk songs out there -- rivaled only by the speediest of speed metal and later, California punk. There are even those who claim that the recorded pace is only a fraction of how fast the band was capable of playing it live. Whoosh.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Rockers Galore 1977 Epic / Legacy 1:55
The Clash 1977 Legacy / Epic 1:56
Story of the Clash, Vol. 1 1988 Epic / Legacy 1:59
No Image 1991
Various Artists
Clash on Broadway 1991 Epic / Legacy 1:59
The Singles 1991 Legacy / Epic 1:59
The Clash/London Calling/Combat Rock [2000] 2000 Epic / Sony Music Distribution 1:59
Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? 2000
Original Soundtrack
EastWest 1:58
Complete Punk Collection: Cash from Chaos 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 1:58
Punk: The Jubilee 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 1:57
The Essential Clash 2003 Legacy / Sony Music Distribution 1:59
No Thanks! The '70s Punk Rebellion 2003
Various Artists
Rhino 1:59
Pearl Harbour '79 2004 CBS Records 2:00
Hits Back 2013 Sony Music 2:13
Sound System 2013 Sony Legacy / Sony Music 8:27
The Complete Studio Albums 2013 Sony Legacy / Sony Music 1:56