Clash – Hitsville UK

I love Christmas every year but when it’s over…I’m happy to break back into the routine of pop/rock songs.

Recently I’ve dived into Sandinista! by The Clash. A very good triple album set. It’s been years since I listened to this one and I’m enjoying it. Not every single song but most I do like. I tend to like double and triple albums like they are. I’ve heard some say about London Calling, The White Album, and Exile On Mainstreet…hmmm they could have had a great album out of this if they would have cut it down. Most of the time I don’t agree because I love some good album cuts but this one…I will have to say I agree…this triple album should have been a double album…but for all of you Clash super fans…you might like the entire album….if you do that is great and I know how you feel…I wouldn’t change a thing about the White Album…not even Revolution #9.

Clash Saninista!

Ellen Foley, who was Mick Jones’ girlfriend at the time, is singing on this track along with Jones. You might know her from singing with Meatloaf on Paradise By The Dashboard Lights. The title relates to Motown Records or known as Hitsville U.S.A…

The song is a duet between Clash guitarist Mick Jones and his then-girlfriend Ellen Foley (who also sang “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” together with Meat Loaf). It was rumored that “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” is about Jones’ and Foley’s relationship.

Bassist Paul Simonon was busy starring in a film called Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains when the Clash started the album Sandinista! Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ bassist Norman Watt-Roy filled in for him for a few cuts including The Magnificent Seven.

In 1981, Ellen Foley and Mick Jones teamed up for another duet on “Torchlight,” a track from Foley’s solo album Spirit Of St. Louis that Jones wrote with Joe Strummer.

The song peaked at #53 in the Billboard 100 and #56 in the UK in 1980. If you want to see a review of Sandinista! check out Aphoristic Album Reviews on this album.

The song according to Songfacts: The lyrics refer to the upcoming British Indie scene in the late ’70s and early ’80s. There are several independent label references in the song, including Small Wonder, Rough Trade, Fast Product and Factory, which in contrast with “slimy deals with smarmy eels.

Ellen Foley: “That stands out as the most fun and relaxed part of the whole thing and it was fun to multitrack my vocals on that one, it was a super lighthearted song that spoke to an experience that I understood, being an American and a fan of the original Hitsville.”

Ellen Foley: “For me, ‘Hitsville UK’ is about the history of The Clash and the beginnings of British punk rock, how it was by kids for kids. The lyric goes, “I know the boys and girls are not alone now that Hitsville hit UK. Motown was really an early soundtrack of my youth. I loved the Miracles because of Smokey Robinson’s voice and songwriting. Smokey is the consummate artist and songwriter. The Four Tops and the Temptations — that was like a battle of the bands in my mind. Having these male singing groups with the amazing harmonies and choreography was something new to me.”

Hitsville UK

They cried the tears, they shed the fears
Up and down the land
They stole guitars or used guitars
So the tape would understand
Without even the slightest hope of a thousand sales
Just as if there was a Hitsville in UK
Know the boy was all alone, till the Hitsville UK

They say true talent will always emerge in time
When lightening hits small wonder
It’s fast rough factory trade
No expense accounts, or lunch discounts
Or hypeing up the charts
The band went in ‘n’ knocked ’em dead in two minutes and fifty-nine

No slimey deals, with smarmy eels, in Hitsville UK
Let’s shake ‘n’ say we’ll operate in Hitsville UK
The mutants, creeps and muscle men
Are shaking like a leaf
It blows a hole in the radio
When it hasn’t sounded good all week
A mike ‘n’ boom, in your living room – in Hitsville UK
No consumer trials, or A.O.R. in Hitsville UK
Now the boys and girls are not alone
Now the Hitsvilles hit U


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

16 thoughts on “Clash – Hitsville UK”

  1. I saw this album sitting used on a local record store shelf for about 2 minutes when someone snagged it. Had no idea Ellen Foley had a a clash tune perhaps written about her. Between Meat and the Clash she found work thats for sure….

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I like that also dude… at the time it was really played a lot. I remember them opening up for The Who on their “last” tour…I wanted to go so bad but they didn’t come near here.


  2. Wow, I would not have guessed that was the Clash, even though I’m well aware of their range that showed up on ‘London Calling’. This one is new to me, I’ve probably heard no more than 8 songs off ‘Sandanista’, but it’s very catchy. Ellen Foley has a better voice than I realized, you can’t tell that well from ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light.’ When you think of it, Joe Strummer and the boys put out five albums (but put into two releases) over not much more than a year. Can’t argue with that productivity or work ethic, though as you suggest, maybe a bit of self-editing would have been fine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea that is incredible about the amount of songs they released in that short of time. I only heard this a handful of times so I didn’t know it well…. I love when bands go outside of their box…


  3. I love both Sandinista and this song. Funny story. A few years ago, I was in New York for the weekend and went on Saturday night to see Ellen Foley at a house concert (Drew’s) in New Jersey. Imagine my surpise when I heard Hittsvile UK that morning at a Starbucks in Lower Manhatten.

    Liked by 1 person

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