Reviewed by Jerry Renshaw, Fri., Aug. 15, 2003
The ClashThe Essential Clash (Epic)
The ClashThe Essential Clash DVD (Epic) After last year's Westway to the World DVD, given special poignancy after Joe Strummer's untimely death, comes The Essential Clash CD and DVD. Though the DVD doesn't feature near as much in the way of intimate interviews with the members of the band, there's a wealth of material for fans to pore over. Included are videos for early hits like "Tommy Gun" and "Complete Control," as well as early-Eighties MTV-style videos for "Bankrobber," "The Call Up," and "Train in Vain." Of course, the familiar "Rock the Casbah" video is here (keep an eye out for the Austin crowd), as well as live footage of "Should I Stay or Should I Go" and "Career Opportunities." The Video Selector is a nice touch on the menu, enabling the viewer to pick the running order of the videos. The beauty of this release, though, is in the special features. There's a 1976 interview with the band (it's more like a list of ransom demands) and some '76 BBC promo footage that's absolutely searing. The ferocity of "1977" and "White Riot" makes it hard to remember that chart-toppers of that year were Boston and Peter Frampton. There's also "Hell W10," Joe Strummer's 50-minute silent film featuring the band and friends. Word has it this black-and-white story of drugs and gangsters had vanished until it turned up at a London flea market recently. As fine as the DVD is, the accompanying 2-CD set is nothing special. Plenty of stuff from throughout the band's career, but if you're looking for alternative versions or anything especially enlightening, you're out of luck with this rather pedestrian comp. In other words, there's nothing you won't find on Clash on Broadway or Story of the Clash. Essential, perhaps, but there are Clash anthologies that are sequenced and packaged better. The DVD, though -- man, oh man.