By 1980, I had become a huge fan of the English punk rock band Clash. I’m fairly sure I bought the album Sandinista!, a triple LP containing 36 tracks, as a Christmas present to myself, very shortly after its December 12 release. (I had broken up with my girlfriend on December 1, 1980, and music soothed the soul.) The album won several “best of the year” critics polls in 1981.
The first song on Side 4 was Police on My Back, featuring a guitar part that sounded like a European siren. “A one-LP distillation of the album, called Sandinista Now!, was sent to press and radio”, and it also began with that song.
Police on My Back was written by someone named Eddy Grant, a name I wasn’t familiar with at the time. But I DID know his music, as it turned out.
EDDY GRANT WAS A teenager [in North London] when he formed The Equals in the mid-’60s… Guyana-born Grant assembled a band with drummer John Hall, guitarist Pat Lloyd and brothers Lincoln and Derv Gordon…
The band’s first single – 1966’s Hold Me Close backed with Baby, Come Back… failed to chart in the UK but it topped the charts in Belgium and hit the Top 20 in Germany and Holland…
The band’s overseas success… was finally replicated in the UK in 1968 when Baby, Come Back saw them appear on Top Of The Pops and hit Number 1. An album of the same name swiftly followed and included 11 tracks, including Police On My Back – a track which was only ever released as a single in Europe.
Baby, Come Back by The Equals got to #32 in the US in 1968. Police on My Back by The Clash made it to #21 on something called the US Mainstream Rock Tracks in 1980.
Some time, I need to tell the story when I saw Eddy Grant in concert a few years later.