The album opens with "Janie Jones", my personal favorite Clash song. The song is about being fed up with working in an office and just wanting to do drugs for fun and hang out with one's girlfriend (or a prostitute, depending on one's interpretation); you can't get much more punk rock than that! It is followed by "Remote Control", a slightly more mellow song about the controlling English government. "I'm So Bored with the U.S.A." discusses the corruption in America. "White Riot" was originally the band's first single, but it is featured in an alternate and superior version on this album. "Hate & War" is about just that, and "What's My Name" is about the frustrations of trying to find yourself. "Deny" details an annoying relationship with a junkie-turned-prostitute, and "London's Burning" is about the tension and monotony in London at the time. "Career Opportunities" is another song about being fed up with one's job. "Cheat" satirically addresses cheating (see the hilarious last verse), and "Protex Blue" is the only song on the album to completely sung by Mick Jones rather than Joe Strummer or as a duet between the two of them. "Police & Thieves" is a longer reggae cover which points to the band's future musical direction. "48 Hours" is about trying to make the most of the weekend, and "Garageland" closes the album nicely and is an anthem for all garage bands. Most of the songs are pretty similar musically, but all of them are great even if some aren't as instantly compelling as others.
The original 1977 U.K. version of the album for sale here is definitely the better version of 'The Clash' in my opinion. The 1979 U.S. version changes the order of the tracks so that many similarly themed and/or similarly titled tracks wind up next to each other in the running sequence. Also, it replaces "White Riot", "Deny", "Cheat", "Protex Blue", and "48 Hours" with the single tracks "Clash City Rockers", "Complete Control", "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais", "I Fought the Law", "Jail Guitar Doors", and the inferior original version of "White Riot". There's nothing wrong with these songs per se; it's just that the different track order and song replacements make the record feel more like a compilation than a true album (sorta like the Cure's 'Boys Don't Cry' album, for the sake of comparison). As such, the U.S. version may work better as an introduction to the Clash, but the original U.K. version remains a better experience in terms of flow and continuity. But hey, both versions are still in print on CD, so get whichever you prefer, I guess. I've heard both, and regardless of edition, it remains one of the best punk albums ever and is totally essential for anyone even remotely interested in the genre.