One of these days I’ll definitely get together a definitive list of Clash related reading material (let’s go ahead and call them books) for the site. I don’t think I’ve read everything on the market myself yet but I think a buyers guide might be useful and informative. With your help we may even uncover some gems that I didn’t know about. There have been shelves of books already written about the birth of the English punk scene in 1976 and of course the genetic links that the English origins hold to New York or elsewhere. When I say elsewhere I’m thinking The Saints who were from Australia and arguably were the earliest purveyors of what was to sound like British punk rock. While I’ve read many (but not all) books written about The Clash I’ve not done more than skim the surface of books that look at the entire scene. Naturally enough many of those devote many chapters and ratios of their contents to discussing The Clash and the part they played on the scene. If you’ve read some or many of those books get in touch if you’d like to help put together an unofficial guide to them for the site as a future project.
For my money I’d still recommend that every Clash library begins with at least two books and if I had to narrow it down I’d first go with the Bob Gruen book which is of course primarily photographs but my goodness such photography. Page after page of fantastic imagery that owes as much to the undeniable talents of Gruen as it does his extremely warm relationship with the band. There are so many moments where he catches the band just hanging out like mates or an urban gang that you realise another photographer wouldn’t have been able to capture. Check it out if you don’t have it – the link for Amazon in the US is here or the UK is here. The price is about the same for both as both currencies continue to plummet to oblivion in an exchange rate equivalent of West Ham against Bolton Wanderers.
The other book I just can’t stop reading and enjoying each time through is the very detailed and emotive work Chris Salewicz and his fairly recent biograpy of Joe Strummer – Redemption Song. A riveting work that I keep finding excuses to read again as each time I open the pages I feel like I am transformed to a specific moment in the evolution of John Mellor to Joe Strummer and The Clash from West London nobodies to globally famous. Equally meritorious is Salewicz’ ability to bring light and definition to Strummer’s childhood and equally fascinating his life and career after The Clash. You almost have to roll your chair back when you appreciate that period covers some 25 years and saw Strummer acting, writing, and performing in a number of guises. Speaking of Chris Salewicz I just picked up his new book about Bob Marley which I’ll get started on in the weeks ahead, here’s a link to a really good interview with the author in the Houston Press about “Bob Marley-The Untold Story”. More info on Chris’ official site.
In the weeks ahead I’ll compile a list of all books I can uncover that relate to The Clash and perhaps draw on you the reader for your collective knowledge, especially for the titles I mentioned above. Not much news from the desert for you – trying to determine just how near to the stage do I need to be for Gorillaz and justify the expense. Once you are more than a dozen rows back does it make much difference, or will I rely on the video screens? I don’t do 5,000 seat venues as a matter of course…..
Thanks for dropping by as always. Tim