The Essential Clash
First Appeared at The Music Box, April 2003, Volume 10, #4
Written by John Metzger
Not only is London Calling the finest effort that The Clash ever released, but it’s also one of the best and most influential albums in the history of rock ’n‘ roll. Without a doubt, the recording deserves a spot in any music purveyor’s catalog. Though seven of its songs are included on The Essential Clash, this two-disc retrospective deserves a place right next to it. It’s actually a blessing that The Essential Clash includes so little from London Calling, for this leaves plenty of room for the many other terrific tracks the seminal British band created. Indeed, much of The Essential Clash’s first disc combines tracks from the U.S. and U.K. versions of the group’s eponymous debut and augments this with the finer selections from the archival Black Market Clash and the potent Give ’Em Enough Rope.
There’s little doubt that the Clash’s final three releases (Sandinista!, Combat Rock, and Cut the Crap) were mediocre in comparison to its initial trilogy, but disc two of The Essential Clash does a superb job of stringing together the group’s latter day moments to make the albums seem better than they actually were. In fact, songs such as Somebody Got Murdered, Should I Stay or Should I Go, and This Is England all hold their own quite well against the material from London Calling that kicks off the disc.
For certain, The Clash were more than just a punk band. The group’s fusion of styles, sense of melody, and topical lyrics took the music of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and The Who and turned it upside-down and inside-out. Without losing any of the Sex Pistols’ rebellion, The Clash made music that was far more accessible and durable. To that end, The Essential Clash is not only a snapshot of history, but also a perfect summation of a brilliant career and a fitting tribute to Joe Strummer.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box