Hello everyone and welcome back to the blog, hoping all is well in your corner of the world this Halloween. I was trying like mad to find a Clash themed carved pumpkin but thus far the best I’ve got is an Echo and The Bunnymen one which while nice doesn’t really fit here does it. Instead I’ve festooned this update with some seasonal bits you might not have seen. Not had a lot of time to blog this week once again as work has been busy which is a good thing of course. Expect normal regular service very soon and a very special piece on a new book I think you’ll be needing. More on that soon.
For tonight I wanted to quickly complile part 3 of the Sound System reviews that made their way online and this will most likely be the final installment of those, I’ve also got a great guest video from Robyn who unpacks and narrates the box set for those of you who still haven’t made the purchase or are waiting on the kindness of others at Christmas. I’m waiting on the kindness of Sony, probably about to give up waiting though soon (thanks for nothing giant multi-national corporation, I’ll remember that when I make my next electronics purchase). Also, the ultimate review of Sound System was furnished by Kris Needs on these very pages, in case you missed it I suggest you start there. Before I get started part one of the compiled reviews is here whilst part two is via this link.
On a related note Amazon have withdrawn the Sound System box set from their inventory at present due to buyer complaints about the CDs not playing correctly. Not sure if anyone has had that issue, I’ve only seen buyers in the US with that complaint? The word was that the special edition black disc (LP replicas) weren’t reading correctly on all types of CD player? I’m sure that will be resolved soon.
Uncut (8 out of 10) – Uncut is one of those monthly music magazines that you never find quite enough in them to bother subscribing to, but the issues you do pick up are about 50% interesting and 50% firestarter. I only wish that they’d publish a half sized and half priced magazine to appeal to those of us who don’t care about Allman Brothers reisssues. As for The Clash review it reads much like the magazine itself, never quite sure if it should endorse something as ambitious as Sound System or criticize the band for agreeing to release it. It ends up being a really lukewarm review that doesn’t seem to match the ’8′ score that they give the box set. It’s perhaps the oddest review I’ve seen and takes the foolish approach of questioning the credibility of the buyer.
Sound System poses the question of just how free-thinking a Clash fan is these days. Is there anything “punk” about a box set that collects the band’s first five albums and three discs of rarities into a box styled like a boombox stereo?
Paste Magazine (95%) - I didn’t even realise that Paste magazine was still going, good for them, it’s often a good read. So is this review, written from the perspective of a huge fan he chronicles the album by album experience and you feel that if any band deserved this sort of box set treatment it was always going to be The Clash, not for the first time (but almost) a reviewer finally expresses that it’s the remastering that should bring you to part with your cash which I think was really the point. He also captures ‘the huge amount done in a short period of time’ factor which perhaps amazes me most about the band.
In hindsight, it’s amazing to consider that almost all of the great music from The Clash was produced over a short six years. That’s half of the time that the Beatles were together and a fraction of the period that The Rolling Stones have been around, yet it’s not much of a stretch to assert that during their peak years The Clash created a sonic legacy that has had an equal influence on the direction of popular music
Wikipedia - If you’re really bored, someone took the time to create a monster sized page for the box so go and have a look.
JamBands – Brian Robbins pens a really nice overview of the box, the career and the reasons why you ought to pick up Sound System. As he says the band simply released no filler which you can’t say about many of their contemporaries and almost none of those who have had careers since. Artists that offered b-sides that comprised of stuff better than ‘tracks that didn’t deserve to make the album’ was a trend that dropped dead in the eighties which is a shame really.
From beginning to end, the five-album run makes one point perfectly clear: no matter how massive their output might have been, The Clash released no filler. They simply had a lot to say
Drowned In Sound (9 out of 10) – A review that’s almost epic in length shouldn’t kick off with a factual error in the third sentence but unfortunately that’s exactly what happened here. Don’t hold the wrong year over the writer’s head though as the following umpteen paragraphs go on to tell the history of the band album by album. Perhaps that’s where Sound System will most startle listeners who are new to the full range of the recorded output of The Clash, if you only knew a dozen or so Clash songs and sat down with the full (well almost) recordings of the act you’d be amazed at how they expanded their sound, their lyrics and their vision in just a few years. Has anyone had six years as prolific ever since?
The question is, who in the current climate can afford to part with eighty pounds and upwards, particularly as there are already numerous other Clash boxsets, anthologies and compilations available on the market? Nevertheless, Sound System really is the definitive article, and with Christmas on the horizon, is sure to feature high on several wishlists.
CBS News - An unlikely source I agree but the review happens to be written by Adrian Boot who is better known for some of his stunning photos of the band. It’s a tasty review though and even includes snippets of an interview with Topper Headon so as such comes highly recommended.
Topper Headon: ”I was talking to Mick last week,” he says later, “when I was in London and we were talking about when we watched the videos or DVDs of ourselves on stage, we think, ‘How did we do that?’ It’s taking things to extreme. It’s like breathtaking. I look at videos of myself now and I get out of breath just watching them. There’s so much commitment and energy and drive. It amazes us now, when we look back on it, we think, ‘Was that us?’ It’s a lovely feeling.”
With that, I think we’ll leave it there and you can always scour the web for more if you fancy the challenge. The box set is probably in about 30-50% of your homes already and perhaps those on the fence will be helped by the many reviews. I wanted to close with a video by a friend of the blog Robyn up in Yorkshire who compiled a great video of her box set ‘unboxing’ and talks you through exactly what you can expect to receive. She’s relatively new to the band but if you haven’t seen her collection of music, books and memorabilia it’s simply stunning and speaks volumes to the huge impact The Clash have on people long after the final songs were written.
Sound System unboxing & review by Robyn
The Clash Blog News | Twitter | Facebook | Google+| RSS feed