Spirit of St. Louis is the second studio album by American singer and actress Ellen Foley, released in March 1981. Foley is backed by The Clash on all songs. The album was recorded right after The Clash's Sandinista! with the same musicians and engineers. Foley was dating Clash guitarist Mick Jones at the time. The album charted at No. 57 UK.

Ellen Foley and Mick Jones

The Clash Official | Facebook

Rude Boy panned, Mick with Ellen Foley

Record Mirror 16 August 1980

Ellen Foley motorbike accident

12 Jan 1980

Mick Jones and Ellen Foley backstage at Bonds

Record Mirror Ellen Foley Mick helping album


Record Mirror Ellen Foley Mick backing vocals


Record Mirror Ellen Foley, Mick Jones

80 03 01

Record Mirror: Foley Live Tour


Long discussion on Sprit of St Louis. Satch's messageboard

Robert Christgau

Ellen Foley: Spirit of St. Louis [Epic/Cleveland International, 1981]

This well-intentioned side trip from punk postpurism to Weimar-manqué artsong might be less embarrassing if Foley and all her voice lessons weren't such typical backup stuff, but as it is she really bollixes such conceits as "Priests married themselves, using Bibles and mirrors/In China all the bicycle chains snapped at once." Which Joe Strummer, here reduced to strummer and backerupper, might actually spit out with some authority. Producer Mick Jones, dubbed "My Boyfriend," acts as if too many chops are Peter Asher's problem, but it's just the opposite--in studio-rock, every note has to be perfect and then some, which leaves Paul, Topper, Mickey etc. two steps short much of the time.

This is often known as the 'lost Clash album', seeing that it's basically performed by the Clash, with Ellen singing. Mick and Joe wrote half the songs, providing an interesting and quite an enjoyable listen. Her first big break was singing the duet with Meat Loaf on "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" from the 1977 album "Bat Out of Hell", produced by Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson. Throughout her singing career, she has recorded songs by the Rolling Stones, Robert Palmer, and Graham Parker among others.

After the recording sessions for the Clash's Sandinista LP were completed, the Sandinista band, consisting of Mick Jones, Micky Gallagher, Norman Watt-Roy, Topper Headon, Tymon Dogg, Paul Simonon, Joe Strummer, and Gary Barnacle went to work on tracks for this Ellen Foley solo album, titled "The Spirit Of St. Louis". Joe, Mick, and Tymon wrote a number of new tracks for the project, displaying a Jacques Brel influence, and other 50s French pop writers, suitable to Ellen's Glam-Rock singing style. Accordions, flutes and strings make their entrance while images of cafés, legionnaires, bicycles, and other European flavors fly about. Mick Jones, who was dating Ellen Foley at the time, really threw himself into the project, which represents some of his best playing of the 1980s, and many of the original songs are top-flight. "The Shuttered Palace" and "Theatre Of Cruelty" could have been good Linda Ronstadt or ABBA songs. Tymon's "Beautiful Waste Of Time" could have worked for Dionne Warwick between some 1960s Bacharach-David numbers. And two songs, "Torchlight" and "MPH" really would have been at home on a Clash record. "Torchlight" is a classic Joe-Mick call and response track that you can just imagine some South American arm of the Spartacist League adopting it as their anthem. And "MPH" would be a great Clampdown-like rocker if sung by Joe and Mick. Ellen's own Siouxsie-like "Phases Of Travel" is well-written, and Mick uses some great flange guitar on it.

Ellen Foley met Mick Jones in 1980, and became a part of the Clash entourage for almost two years. She wouldn't tour with the Clash, but she appeared with them in the King Of Comedy movie (1981), and guested on their albums. The Clash's hit song "Should I Stay or Should I Go" from the "Combat Rock" album was about the turbulent relationship she shared with Mick. Ellen later found brief TV fame on Night Court in the mid 1980s, and continued with her acting by working in several Hollywood films including: "Fatal Attraction"; "Married To The Mob"; "Cocktail"; "Tootsie"; "King Of Comedy"; and others. Selections on this seldom seen LP are: The Shuttered Palace; Torchlight; Beautiful Waste Of Time; The Death Of The Psychoanalyst Of Salvador Dali; M.P.H.; My Legionnaire; Theatre Of Cruelty; How Glad I Am; Phases Of Travel; Game Of A Man; Indestructible; and, In The Killing Hour. Recorded and mixed by Bill Price. Assisted by Jeremy Green. Produced by Mick Jones at Wessex Studios, London. This is an original 1981 pressing on EPIC RECORDS' CLEVELAND INTERNATIONAL Series (NJE-36984), with the original insert. The record jacket shows some minor color rubbing, but appears in overall Excellent condition. The stock Cleveland International record labels appear bright & clean, while the playing surfaces are overall beautiful near MINT!

Albums from the Lost and Found: Night Out / Spirit of St. Louis / Another Breath (Part 1)

February 28, 2017
by Jeff Fiedler

Archive PDF


Wiki: Spirit of St. Louis is the second studio album by American singer and actress Ellen Foley, released in March 1981. Foley is backed by The Clash on all songs. The album was recorded right after The Clash's Sandinista! with the same musicians and engineers. Foley was dating Clash guitarist Mick Jones at the time. The album charted at No. 57 UK.

AllMusic Review by Ralph Heibutzki [-]

Ellen Foley evidently yearned to do something with more gristle than the rockist sturm und drang of her solo debut, Night Out. She got her wish, although titles like "The Death of the Psychoanalyst of Salvador Dali" surely puzzled fans who heard her breathless guest vocal on "Paradise by the Dashboard Light." Ironically, the press focused more on the assistance rendered by Foley's steady, Clash guitarist Mick Jones (whose production is credited to "my boyfriend").

His other Clash-mates also appear, as do members of Ian Dury's backing band, the Blockheads; this impressive array of talent gives the album a unity it might otherwise lack. Jones and fellow Clash-mate Joe Strummer co-wrote six songs.

The standout is "Torchlight," a duet with Foley on which Jones drops some characteristically glistening guitar. "The Shuttered Palace" and "Theatre of Cruelty" also work well, logically upholding the Sandinista! era's dense, intricate wordplay.

The other Strummer/Jones efforts are less distinctive. "Salvador Dali" is little more than an impenetrable grocery list of free associations, "In the Killing Hour" is a sketchy throwaway that needed a stronger arrangement, and "M.P.H."'s bumptious pub rock is fun listening, but hardly a classic. Strummer's old busking mate, Tymon Dogg, contributes three killer tunes himself: his affectionate "Beautiful Waste of Time" is the best one, bolstered by an inspired Payne sax line. (The song originally appeared on Dogg's 1976's self-released Outlaw Number One album.)

Foley is less convincing on a stiff remake of "My Legionnaire," but fares better on her own propulsive original, "Phases of Travel." The sound is lush and dreamy, although a little more consistent material and less artsiness would have gone a long way.

Clash fans impatient for the old three-chord thunder couldn't stifle their yawns, so the album bombed -- but the rewards are there, if you care to listen.

Ellen Foley cashes in on Clash connections

Sun May 10 1981

Dayton Daily News

Foley sings 'Esoterock'

Sun May 31 1981

Pacific Daily News:

Ellen Foley: Spirit of St Louis

Philadelphia Daily News

Sat May 30 1981

Ellen Foley: Spirit of St Louis

The Greenville News

Sun May 31 1981

Ellen Foley: Spirit of St Louis

The Orlando Sentinel

Wed Jun 17 1981

Record Review by Dave Marsh

The Sentinel

Sat May 30 1981

Ellen Foley: Spirit of St Louis

St Cloud Times

Sat May 23 1981


Damien Love

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Ranging across dub, funk, hip-hop, Northern Soul, rockabilly, jazz, disco, folk, gospel, Cajun, rock’n’roll, hobo skank and several weird genre-gumbo genetic mash ups of no fixed label, Sandinista!, The Clash’s triple album of 1980, baffled many on initial release, widely regarded as a bloated self-indulgence. Yet this magnificent mutant mongrel is perhaps the group’s most ambitious piece of work.

Ever since it appeared, fans have played the editor’s game of trying to whittle the three-disc Sandinista! down to the great single or double LP that is surely lurking within. Yet the splendid sprawling size of the thing is part of its character - it’s what makes Sandinista! an experience that’s less like listening to an album and more like spending a summer night wandering lost through the neighbourhoods of some strange new city.

What’s less appreciated is that this triple album could actually have been a quadruple. During the sessions, The Clash (augmented by the same extra players they had assembled for Sandinista!, including Tymon Dogg and Blockheads Mickey Gallagher, Davey Payne and Norman Watt-Roy, as well as engineer Bill Price) made a whole other album entirely: The Spirit Of St Louis, the second LP by St Louis-born singer Ellen Foley.

From this distance, Foley might seem a strange fit for the Clash to draft in as front woman for a record that found them effectively adopting the guise of invisible backing band. At that point, she was best known as the co-vocalist swapping ramalama lines with Meat Loaf on “Paradise By The Dashboard Light,” one of the hit singles from 1977’s world-devouring Bat Out Of Hell.

But, as the 1980s dawned, Foley had a very direct link to The Clash camp: she was going out with guitarist-writer Mick Jones, who threw himself into the task of making an album for her with true labour-of-love zeal, pulling his band in along with him. Of the album’s twelve tracks, six are new Strummer-Jones compositions specifically written for the project.

If Sandinista! saw The Clash venturing farther and farther out from their prescribed punk pigeonhole, The Spirit Of St Louis sees them roaming in other directions again, trying softer textures. The opener, “The Shuttered Palace,” blends Latin and folk influences with Brel-like pop balladeering - all acoustic guitars, flutes and cantina chime, it mines a seam of soft, lush, warm drama that looks forward to the soundtrack Joe Strummer would compose in 1989 for the movie Walker.

Elsewhere, with Jones chanting strident back-up vocals, “Torchlight” is a classic Clash call-and-response , while, if you replace Foley’s vocals with Strummer’s, “MPH” becomes an orphaned London Calling track. Elsewhere again (“Theatre Of Cruelty”) you catch a glimpse of The Clash living out their secret life as ABBA fans.

The Clash played coy about The Spirit Of St Louis - the sleeve notes credit them only as Mick, Joe, Paul and Topper - and, perhaps as a result, the album all but vanished on release in 1981. There are Clash fans out there who have never heard it, although they will have heard Foley singing with the group on Sandinista!’s track “Hitsville UK,” and might know her as the inspiration for Jones’s later writing “Should I Stay Or Should I Go.”

But The Spirit Of St Louis deserves to be rediscovered every now and then. One of the most fascinating aspects of the record is how it offers the chance to hear The Clash writing and playing free from the pressure of being The Clash. It’s Sandinista!’s Sister. Here, I speak with Ellen Foley about her memories of how it came about.

How did you first hook up with Mick Jones?
ELLEN FOLEY: I was performing in London, and I met him a couple of days before that in the club where I was gonna perform and…that was kinda that. We were together for about two and a half years, and somewhere in the course of that, I was on the Epic label, and I needed a second album. And, y’know, I wanted to be there with Mick, and he and the guys just offered to do the album with me, and enlisted all their people to do it.

Did you talk much about the kind of record you wanted to make? It’s quite a different record from your first album (Night Out, 1979).
EF: Yeah. It was the time I spent over there in Britain. I went from a very American album to a very European album. It was all influenced by the environment, the people I was with, and the relationship. Mick was sort of, you know, anti-American music - or anti-American music of a certain kind, anyway. I mean, y’know, to Mick, Jim Steinman was The Devil. And that’s where I was coming from, and I think Mick was very interested in presenting the person that he was with in a very different light, because it - I - sort of reflected on him.

Were there any specific influences that you talked about?
EF: Well, we were both very, at that moment, into Edith Piaf. I was going through old LPs the other day, and I found about 12 Edith Piaf albums that I acquired back during that time. I think I thought I was going to be the Anglo-American Edith Piaf! The idea was that it was going to be a kind of…modern cabaret album.

It went out as an Ellen Foley solo album, but is it fair to say it was much more collaboration between you and Mick?
EF: Oh yes, very much so. And actually, collaboration with Mick and Joe - and Bill Price, he played a very big part in the making of that album. Bill’s more than an engineer, he played a big part in the technical and musical end of things. But everybody sort of did everything extremely spontaneously. That’s how The Clash made their records, at least in the beginning. Although they were very meticulous at the same time. There was that kind of paradox in the way they worked. Bill managed to somehow bring it together in the middle.

There are Clash fans don’t even know that these Strummer-Jones songs exist today, because…
EF: Because the record tanked! Let’s just say it. Nobody heard it!

How did the songwriting work? Did you talk with Joe about the lyrical side of things?
EF: No, he just kind of went off and wrote them. I wasn’t going to tell him what to write. In a way, it was sort of a difficult period for me, because I was just there as the singer. I would have liked to have had a little more…The funny thing is, I recall Mick and I would have “discussions,” about keys. Because I would ask, “What key…” And Mick would just be like, “What, what? You can sing it, you don’t need to sing in a key” - he almost didn’t understand, because, y’know, they just wrote. They didn’t even think about keys, they just wrote for Joe. But, as a singer, I have to sing in specific keys, obviously. So, I kind of think the whole vocal end of it was downplayed a little bit, actually, and that I could have shown a little bit more than I did vocally on that record. I think it was most interesting musically and lyrically, but in terms of the vocals… it wasn’t really an Ellen Foley record. I mean, it really was more of a Clash record. Whether you like it or not, I think that my first album, and the Meat Loaf material, really showed off how I sing. You know? But that kind of thing was just anathema to the whole situation with The Clash. The only thing I remember really arguing about was this thing, about specific keys…and it was like a concept that they just didn’t get! But I was very enthusiastic and accepting, because it was a really exciting project for me. And it was also them doing something different, that was tailored to something that they wanted to do for me. I mean, they wrote them, but those weren’t “Clash” songs by any stretch. And I think they thought it was sort of cool to do this kinda out there, Edith Piaf/ Rock’n’Roll record, which was something that they wouldn’t do for themselves.

Were you surprised at the stuff they came up with? I mean, lyrically, Strummer’s writing from a woman’s perspective…
EF: Exactly. But I wasn’t really surprised. Joe Strummer was a really extraordinary person in how empathic he was. I wasn’t surprised that he could write songs from the woman’s point of view at all. And I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all with the material. Joe was such a bohemian, y’know, and he was so open to anything, so I wasn’t surprised, no.

You said you were almost there just as the singer, and it was almost a Clash record. But at the time, it almost seemed you were at pains to downplay the Clash side of things.
EF: Yeah, it says Mick, Joe, Paul, Topper on the cover - but it does not say Jones, Stummer, Simonon, Headon… That was intentional, a kind of a cute thing. ‘Produced By My Boyfriend…’ y’know, we were being cute. The hilarious thing was, I was going along with the whole Clash “Screw The Man” ethos, y’know. My manager, he came all the way over from America - and we wouldn’t even let him in the studio to hear this stuff! So, y’know, I think we did everything to make the record not sell! That’s why nobody’s last names were on it, although, of course, the songs are credited to Strummer/ Jones.

I’ve always wondered when the album was recorded, was it at the end of the Sandinista sessions, or during, or…
EF: Right. Well, actually, it was more sort of like in, around, and inbetween. So that’s when I did “Hitsville UK” with them, it was all around that same time. It was sort of all mixed up together, y’know, catching studio time from The Clash sessions and, yeah, sort of mixed up together.

Did you notice any difference in their attitude between them doing their stuff and your album?
EF: I think they were a lot more relaxed because it wasn’t a Clash record. I think maybe they were maybe having more fun with it. They brought in people. And maybe especially Topper and Paul, because the pressure of The Clash record was off, and they maybe felt almost like session men sort of, which was probably a new experience for them at the time, and everybody felt that way, I think it was a more relaxed atmosphere, definitely.

You mentioned the record didn’t sell much. Was that a surprise to you?
EF: A bit. Because, you know, when you’re inside something you really believe in it. But then you put it out, and the record company doesn’t like it, and they record company doesn’t promote it, and they don’t play it on the radio… and it’s a real shock, because this is who you are at the time. Y

ou put out what you want the world to see as who you are. And those guys, The Clash, were gone: you know, after that, The Clash were still The Clash - but this was my album, and I was left with it. And in a way, like I said, I kind of didn’t feel like it was “my” album. I mean, I’m sure there were things that I was feeling kind of pissed off about. You know, I might have been left thinking: ‘Well, if I had made an album that was the extension from my first album, which sold…’ You know, in retrospect, when you’re involved in things, you don’t see the things that you see later.

All the stuff that my manager and people were telling me: ‘Oh, Ellen, why didn’t you make a record like the first one and blah, blah, blah…’ And I was like, “Oh, no, no, no, fuck you…” I thought I was part of The Clash, y’know, and I could get away with this, because The Clash could put out whatever they felt like, and people would love it. You know, their later stuff was so vastly different from their earlier stuff, and there were probably some punk-purists who were like “oh, what is this?” and didn’t like it - but it certainly didn’t stop them from selling records, because they became such a huge band. But I wasn’t in that position, so, in a way, there was regret involved, especially after Mick and I weren’t together any more, because you put in so much, and that record was really an extension of that relationship.

So, at the time, when it didn’t sell and people were saying to me, “Wow. This doesn’t sound like you….” You know, when you’ve only made one album, and then you turn around and you’re a whole different person, it can confuse people. If you make a bunch of albums and you’re established, and then you start trying something different, that can work better. But, I really don’t regret anything in my life, because I’m really happy where I am, and everything you do takes you to where you are.

So I’ve never really sat around and said, oh I wish I hadn’t done that… and I do hear from people… I just went through my LPs, and, if I could find it, and if I had a turntable that worked, I’d certainly like to listen to that record again - I’m a terrible archivist of my own stuff- I haven’t even listened to it in I couldn’t tell you how long. But I’m sure if I listened to it now, with all the years of separation and distance, I’m sure I might think: “well, yeah, actually: that was pretty good. I didn’t sound as bad as I thought!” Because I kept thinking back then, feh, I sound weak, I sound weak on this album. But I’m not taking away from the songs, because they were really interesting songs, and I’m sure if I’d done them say eight years into a successful recording career, it would probably have been a very cool thing. Not that it wasn’t a cool thing.

Some people refer to it as, like, The Lost Clash Record. How do you feel about that?

EF: Yeah. Yeah, I’ll take that. I wouldn’t mind being thought of as a lost Clash project. I think that’s pretty cool. If people take a listen to it and they can hear something of that, that’s fine with me. And if they even bought it….Well, that’d be okay by me, too.

Spirit of St. Louis - Rate Your Music

11 Reviews

Fantalicious Jan 26 2015 ▼ 3.00 stars
With The Clash as backing band and writers, you can't really go wrong. But it's not really all that interesting either. "Torchlight" is the best song, feeling similar to The Clash's "Hitsville U.K.". Definitely worth a look for Clash fans.

clean_steve Oct 16 2011
Interesting for the involvement of Strummer and Jones from The Clash who provide most of the material and a lot of the playing, but it doesn't really rise to expectations. Similarities in sound to Sandinista! can be found, but only hints. The opener and single "The Shuttered Palace" is certainly the best thing here and does is a nice listen. Songs like "Beautiful Waste of Time" and "The Death of the Psychoanalyst of Salvador Dali" have interesting titles but the songs don't really live up to them. While I find the music pleasant, Foley's voice with its constant waver just isn't my cup of tea.

PC_Music Mar 10 2011
Ellen Foley s'était fendue en 1979 d'une reprise de "Stupid Girl" des Rolling Stones version qui par ailleurs tient la route.

Malheureusement rien de tout ça ici. Elle eu beau avoir fréquenté Mick Jones des Clash et porté des pantalons en cuir sur scène, si vous voulez du rock féminin qui tache grave, vous serez déçu.

Les 12 titres proposés ici ne sont que de la médiocre variété rythmée, parfois faisant penser à du sous-Abba. Les mélodies sont banales, plates et sans saveur, bref on s'ennuie ferme avec cette mélasse.

Il y a une reprise sans intérêt de "Mon légionnaire" d'Édith Piaf et 2 autres rencontres curieuses avec 2 chansons de Gilbert Bécaud.

"How Glad I Am" fait curieusement penser à "Un peu d'amour et d'amitié" dont Ellen aurait changé le rythme. Lorsqu'elle chant "You don't know, You don't know, You don't know...", ça évoque tout de suite "Et le temps, et le temps, et le temps..." sur les même notes.
Enfin "In the Killing Hour" fait penser à la mélodie de "Stewball" sur le rythme de "Et maintenant" et on n'échappe pas au fameux crescendo... Mais au fait, c'est que Maurice Ravel avec son fameux "Boléro" a fait pas mal d'émules... souvent imité mais jamais égalé ! Le rythme est presque identique, il est juste un peu raccourci.

Un album qui ne restera certainement pas dans les annales.

Le précédent disque de la blonde américaine, Nightout, sans être tout-à-fait mauvais, était quand même un peu lourd du cul (n'ai-je pas mentionné Meat Loaf?). Là, avec Jones, transformation houdinesque, l'homme prenant d'importantes distances avec ses productions de l'époque, même si ça clashe un peu sur "Torchlight". L'ambiance générale est assez difficile à définir, tapant quand même pas mal dans la soul ("How Glad I Am", "Beautiful Waste of Time"), voire le mambo (le génial "Theatre of Cruelty"), avec passage par le répertoire d'une certaine Edith Piaf (une version du "Légionnaire..." qui en vaut franchement bien d'autres). Quant au final ("In the Killing Hour"), il rappelle étrangement Et maintenant du grand Bécaud, mais on peut voir ça comme un hommage.

A trois poils près (le faible "Phases of Travel"), cet album mélancolique et lumineux est une absolue réussite et la note globale qu'il obtient jusqu'ici (même pas 3*) confine au scandale.

fufiski Oct 12 2009 3.00 stars
boh! e l'ho anche comperato! Diciamo che era la "morosa dei Clash" e che c'è il loro zampino in alcuni brani; Shuttered palace è anche bella, alcuni titoli incuriosiscono e i rimandi musicali sono anche inaspettati ma alla fine il risultato non è granchè

jabbe Jul 15 2007 2.00 stars
I like her voice, but the only songs here that are worth listening too are "The shuttered palace" and "beautiful waste of time"

Electricflesh Mar 12 2007 3.50 stars
Japanese issue.

umma_gumma Jan 06 2007 0.50 stars
When I saw 5 star ratings for this I thought maybe I've lost the plot, dug the album out and played it. After all, I liked her voice and what I'd heard of the first album enough to buy it all those moons ago.

Well, 'The Shuttered Palace' is Strummer & Jones homage to Abba, 'Torchlight' is Big Audio Dynamite meets Bucks Fizz, 'Beautiful Waste of Time' is a very poor imitation of Rickie Lee Jones 'Chuck E's In Love', and frankly by then I'd heard enough.

Thank heavens my marbles are more in tact than Mick Jones' were for getting involved in this drivel.

Roy_Pearl Apr 18 204 3.00 stars
For her second solo effort, Foley enlisted her then boyfriend Mick Jones as producer, who also brought along the rest of the Clash as well as Ian Dury's Blockheads for back-up. Joe Strummer and Jones wrote 6 of the tracks, while Strummer cohort Tymon Dogg adds 3 others. It's an odd 180 degree turnaround from her Ian Hunter produced debut album; a strangely non-rock affair, feeling more like a half-remembered dream of cabaret mixed with folk, and song titles like "The Shuttered Palace" and "The Death of the Psychoanalyst of Salvador Dali" correctly clue you in that Strummer/Jones weren't exactly in London Calling mode.

at Loaf,the Clash and eventually a deal with Cleveland International.a subsidiary of Epic,for which she landed a 3 album option.
On this 2nd album she does mainly songs by Strummer/Jones of the Clash though things like "The death of the psychoanalyst of Salvador Dali" were beyond her and she suspected Epic were just trying to sell the Clash but never said anything she was just glad to be making records.
Only cover on here is the Nancy Wilson song "How glad I am".
The opening one "The Shuttered Palace" is quite stunning and was issued as a single,the sleeve showing the photo of her when she won the accordeon competition

bobbya Dec 18 2002 5.00 stars
Ellen Foley's masterpiece!!!
Ellen and the Clash serve it
up in true multi dimensional
cinema!!! Search out and buy.