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Song Stories

“Complete Control”

The Clash | 1979

The Clash recorded "Complete Control" with one of their idols: Jamaican dub producer Lee "Scratch" Perry. But the song couldn't have been less reggae; instead, it's a propulsive punk rant about overbearing management and record-label chicanery. (The title came from the Clash's manager, Bernie Rhodes, who called for "complete control" during one band meeting.) The lyrics are a laundry list of grievances -- beginning with a complaint about how CBS Records handled an earlier Clash single. "We was on tour and 'Remote Control' was put out behind our backs," bassist Paul Simonon explained in 2003. "We were angry, yeah, but 'Complete Control' was funny as hell."

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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