The Clash “The Rise And The Fall Of The Clash” DVD (UDR/ADA/Warner)
If you grew up in the late 70s there was one band that spoke for the dejected youth of England – The Clash. Vividly reflecting their anger at society, disillusion with politics, yet also their incredible talent latent within their diversity, The Clash brought that energy together in a fireball that could have – and some still say to this day should have – started a revolution in a Britain fed up with class inequality, racism and an infrastructure crippled by militant industrial action. All the elements were there but the Sex Pistols became a fashion bandwagon, whilst the exported Ramones were content to flirt with pop – but The Clash charged in like the riot squad. Honestly, if you’ve ever seen them live in their heyday there were times you didn’t think you’d survive the proto mosh pits, but you’d also come out with hope, feeling you were part of something, part of a band that actually lived in the crumbling council estates, foraging for life on the dole while watching others sink into drink, drugs and hopelessness. The Clash stood for something – they stood for kids like us. Co produced by David Mungay (writer of “Rude Boy”, The Clash film), this DVD takes the same intense pace featuring no holds barred interviews with Mick Jones, Terry Chimes, Nick Sheppard, Ray Jordan as well as those close to the band like Pearl Harbor (ex-wife of Paul Simonon) and Ray Jordan (ex-bodyguard) brilliantly edited into unseen live and photographic footage that maintains its pace for 1.5 hours without any sign of a let up – I watched it all the way through finding it both nostalgic, funny and also tragic as the story unfolds of a band plagued by micro management by Bernie Rhodes and later Cosmo Vinyl but often at the behest of Strummer himself, who was pulled between the commercial success of the band and it’s paradoxical need to stay true to its socially conscious roots. Along the way, Topper is sacked and Mick Jones’s flirtation with rock stardom firstly alienates and finally gets him ejected too. New members are recruited, but paid a pittance under Rhodes and Strummer’s insistence to invigorate a punk spirit in them whilst the band were decked out in high street punk outfits – Vince White driven to tears as he tells the tale says it all. As the music wained, not even a drum machine could finally save the band as Strummer, finally realizing end nigh, flew after in a desperate 3 days search on the Bahamas for Jones who had already found success in Big Audio Dynamite. The rumors persisted in possible Clash reunions right until Strummer’s death, but the ultimate truth, whether fans and the band alike realized it at the time was that The Clash were no better than the Pistols in being a manufactured band, only that the former didn’t quite realize and then face up to it. However, their legacy remains and the indeligible impression they left on the music scene is undeniable, making this film compulsive viewing from start to finish.