But we didn't want it on the label
They said, "Fly to Amsterdam"
The people laughed but the press went mad
Ooh ooh ooh someone's really smart
Ooh ooh ooh complete control, that's a laugh
On the last tour my mates couldn't get in
I'd open up the back door but they'd get run out again
At every hotel we was met by the Law
Come for the party - come to make sure!
Ooh ooh ooh have we done something wrong?
Ooh ooh ooh complete control, even over this song
They said we'd be artistically free
When we signed that bit of paper
They meant let's make a lotsa mon-ee
An' worry about it later
Ooh ooh ooh I'll never understand
Ooh ooh ooh complete control - lemme see your other hand!
All over the news spread fast
They're dirty, they're filthy
They ain't gonna last!
This is Joe Public speaking
I'm controlled in the body, controlled in the mind
C-o-n control - that means you!
"Complete Control" is a song by The Clash, released as a 7" single and featured on the U.S. release of their debut album.
The song is often cited as one of punk's greatest singles, and is a fiery polemic on record companies, managers and the state of punk music itself, the motivation for the song being the band's label (CBS Records) releasing "Remote Control" without bothering to ask them, something that infuriated the group. The song also features perhaps the earliest usage of the phrase "guitar hero" in rock music, as sung by Joe Strummer to Mick Jones. The song also refers to managers of the time who sought to control their groups–Bernie Rhodes (of The Clash) and Malcolm McLaren (the Sex Pistols)–indeed, the song's very title is derived from this theme:
|“||Bernie [Rhodes] had a meeting in The Ship in Soho after the Anarchy Tour. He said he wanted complete control...I came out of the club with Paul [Simonon] collapsing on the pavement in hysterics at those words.||”|
|“||They said, we'd be artistically free / When we signed that bit of paper.||”|
|“||Instead of a piece of cynicism, Complete Control becomes a hymn to Punk autonomy at its moment of eclipse.||”|
During the tracking session, some Clash and Perry biographies claim, Perry blew out a studio mixing board attempting to get a deep bass sound out of Paul Simonon's instrument, while a 1979 New Musical Express and Hit Parader article penned by Strummer and Jones stated that Perry had complimented Jones' guitar playing, saying he "played with an iron fist". Perry's contribution to the track, however, was toned down - the band went back and fiddled with the song themselves to bring the guitars out and played down the echo Perry had dropped on it. The song was also Topper Headon's first recording with the band, following the departure of Terry Chimes.
"Complete Control" reached number 28 in the singles chart, making it The Clash's first Top 30 release. In 1999, CBS Records reissued the single with a live version of "Complete Control". In 2004, Rolling Stone rated the song as No. 361 in its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song is featured as a playable track in the video games Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and Rock Band.