Inoculated City

Album: Combat Rock (1982)
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Songfacts®:

  • Lyrically and musically this song is a follow-up to The Clash's 1981 single "The Call Up." It's a jaunty tune about the futility of war and war crimes and the actions of soldiers being defended by the age-old adage of "I was just following orders:

    "The sergeant will for his sergeant's pay
    Obey the general order of the battle play
    The generals bow to the government
    Obey the charge you must not relent"

    A possible inspiration for these lyrics - written by Clash guitarist Mick Jones - is XTC's 1980 single "Generals and Majors."
  • Interestingly, the original version of the song had a sample from a US TV commercial about the toilet cleaner 2,000 Flushes. What point it served the song is uncertain (perhaps a comment on rampant commercialism), but it sounds pretty good at least. The company behind the product, Flushco Inc., threatened a million-dollar lawsuit and a temporary injunction against the manufacture of the Combat Rock LP, and the whole saga forced The Clash to go into hiding to avoid being served with a writ.

    In the end the sample was withdrawn, and isn't present on the CD re-release. However, the original version of the song (with sample intact) is floating around on original pressings.

    The song had already been chopped down by nearly two minutes from an early mix by Jones as part of the Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg early mix of the album. When this overlong mix was edited down by producer Glyn Jones, "Inoculated City" was one of many tracks to be cut down to decrease the run time.
  • This was featured on the B-side of the US release of the "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" single. It was played live by The Clash for a short time in 1981, during their Paris residency and on the following UK tour.

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