The punk revolution gave The Rolling Stones a necessary kick up the backside, forcing them to prove they were still relevant. Musically, most bands thriving within the scene didn’t appeal to the hip-shacking leader of the Stones, however, there was one that he declared as his “favourite”.
When punk came along towards the end of the 1970s, The Rolling Stones were no longer the ferocious, young bucks on the scene who were causing carnage everywhere they went. The new section of hellraising groups were a necessary beast that dismantled the traditional system, and the Stones were one of many forced to adapt their attitude to survive.
Jagger’s bandmate Keith Richards was far from complimentary about the punk movement in a musical sense, although he did have respect for the mindset of the bands that it spawned even though it didn’t fit his acquired taste.
Speaking to Vevo about their 1978 album Some Girls, Richards said the wave of punk groups “moved our ass, boy”. Heaping further praise on the clique of bands, the guitarist added, “The thing I loved about those times was the attitude and a new generation coming up.” However, he did scathingly also add, “Unfortunately, only a very few [bands] could actually play, you know, music.”
Throughout the process of making the album in New York, the Stones regularly took trips down to CBGBs to see who was performing, and it was the American version of punk that they were more familiar with — rather than the British variety.
In the same interview, Jagger reflected: “The sort of punk scene in New York, you know, you had the Ramones and you had the New York Dolls, but they didn’t really play that kind of music … it was more of a glam look.”
The frontman then revealed the one group from that epoch that inhabits a special place in his heart. Despite Jagger being closer to the American variant of punk to the British one, he named a fellow London group as his favourites. He added, “New York was sort of different than what the Sex Pistols were putting out. I mean, my favourite band of that period, was The Clash, definitely. They definitely had a dance sensibility, as well as a rock sensibility.”
While The Clash were technically a punk band because they were born out of that scene, they later proved to be so much more than that. The group developed with every record and had significantly more in their arsenal than their peers, which explains why they survived when punk came crashing to its death.
With that, as Jagger pointed out, similarly to The Rolling Stones, The Clash had both a dance and rock sensibility to their sound. Additionally, they were bold, ambitious, and constantly moved forward in their approach. Most importantly, they were also unafraid to intersperse new genres into their sound and didn’t let their punk origins define them, which helped make them the only band that mattered to a generation, including Mick Jagger.