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The Clash

From Here to Eternity (Epic). Review by James Mann

The Clash

From Here to Eternity

Epic

In their day, the Clash were marketed as “The Only Band That Matters.” Perhaps not entirely true, but they were certainly in the top 3 or 4 in those days of bad haircuts, skinny ties and gobbing. What made the Clash brilliant then was the combined desire to achieve something better. Better for them, if only to get out of the abandoned tenements they called home, better for music in general, to fast-forward past the excesses of the jet set Rod Stewart-types that clogged the airways in the late ’70’s, and ultimately, better for the fans. With a message of “Wake UP” coupled with a very unpunk sense of hope, the Clash were an inspiration to those who heard the call. The Clash survived longer than others in their graduating class (The Pistols, for example) because they never boxed themselves in the punk rock jail, instead wearing their love for reggae, R+B, and in Mick Jones’ case, the music of Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson on their sleeves. By the time the band recorded London Calling , they were unstoppable, and this great live album captures the passion, the energy and that indefinable “something” that the Clash had. The 17 songs here roar with Strummer’s snarling wail and the echo-drenched, but still head-crushing guitar work of Mick Jones. One forgets how incredible some of these songs sound — the rage of “What’s My Name” or the paranoid but wary “London Calling” — that are somehow brutal and sublime in the same instant.

Ranging from “Complete Control” to “Straight to Hell,” with welcome stops at lesser known songs such as “City of the Dead” and “Armagideon Time,” this is one of the best sounding live albums ever — punk rock or not. It rivals in conviction and musicianship the Stones’ Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out or Husker Du’s The Living End — in fact, it could be a combination of the two. Granted, die-hard fans would swap a “Stay Free” or “Safe European Home” for yet another “I Fought the Law”, but hell, it’s the Clash live! One can hope the band will ignore the temptations of filthy lucre and not reform (as they have vowed not to do) — because other than financially, they have nothing else to prove. At one time, music was life and death to some people — and hearing From Here to Eternity reminds some of us why.

Epic, 550 Madison, 22nd Floor, New York, NY 10022-3211

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