Hello again and by all accounts this would be a Saturday. Exciting week at ClashBlog Towers (in relative terms) with the washing machine flooding the house and the other morning the cat goes missing, since resolved. Hardly a rock and roll lifestyle is it? There are some bloody good concerts coming up and a weekend camping on the beach though so I can’t complain really.
A few things in the pipeline in the days ahead include a closer look at a very special book by our friend Pete Stevens that celebrates last years Strummer of Love festival down in Somerset. The book is a beautiful thing and one that Clash collectors really should have and we’ll take a good look at it next week. Also we’ll be looking at the audiophile reviews of the new Clash box set and last weeks brief appearance on Twitter by Mick, Topper and Paul – future
pop up shops Clash Box Set Shop appearances and a lot more.
So the new Sound System box set release is now finding its way to homes around the world, to my dismay Sony Music haven’t sent me one (cheers) so I can’t offer you my own review of the box. I thought instead I’d share a quick list of 3rd party reviews that are online for those of you who are perhaps still on the fence. I can’t personally justify the box set cost but I’ll probably get the remastered albums only as I’m told the remastered sound is noticeable and I’ll therefore have my 6th (?) copy of London Calling. Sony…you still have time to redeem yourself before my own review! On to Part 1 of the other reviews then….
The Quietus: I like The Quietus as a music site, some really good stuff. This might be the longest review of a new release ever but unfortunately while it’s a very detailed overview of the history of The Clash they barely write about the actual box set. People will want to know about the remastered sound and the extra unreleased tracks and DVD after all – instead they seem to focus on Sandinista! suggesting rather naively that it should have been a single album. Overall I think they like it but it’s hard to tell.
“The Clash gave a shit. Their music still gives a shit. And so should you.”
Rolling Stone: (5 out of 5) RS have already determined this is the greatest release of the 2020′s which naturally will be announced in 2029. They still use stars for album reviews and offer the requisite 5. Somehow the magazine thinks you can review something this large in 4 or 5 sentences which makes the review almost completety asinine however.
“It takes a band as myth-saturated as the Clash to live up to a career-summing box as ambitious as this one”
The Telegraph: (4.5 out of 5) My grandad’s favourite newspaper are suddenly in The Clash camp. He’d not be pleased. Fortunately Patrick Sawer is a genuine fan and nails down a good overview of not just the band but the release itself. He lauds the production making the music ‘fresher’ and remarks in detail about the amazing evolution of the band. As I’ve said before in these days of long delays between albums; for example Arcade Fire are about to release their 4th album, no doubles or triples, in 9 years and they work quicker than most. The Clash released 3 single LPs one double, and a triple (8 albums of music) in just a fraction over 5 years and no two albums are alike. Sawer also notes that the box set has been lovingly created.
“For all its high end production values and high end price tag, The Clash Sound System is at root an example of the band’s DIY principle”
All Music Guide: AMG offer concise but fairly user-friendly reviews of literally millions of albums. The site is best for checking the details of full discographies or foreign releases. Like a lot of reviews the DVD draws a lot of the praise on offer along with the aesthetic of the presentation. I hope this doesn’t need to be said to my readership but if you’re going to purchase this release don’t download it, what’s the point?
“Perhaps there are still some stray tracks in the vaults …but this is as complete as we’ll get and if it doesn’t present any fresh revelations, it brings the Clash’s era back to life, both sonically and visually”
Spin: (9 out of 10) Again praising the DVD and the presentation, Spin wonder if it’s all a bit too much and question the price at some length. Perhaps there might be a separate release of the DVD only in the future although I doubt it. I’d buy it.
“the set incorporates retrospective essays, reprinted fanzines, a poster, dog tags, stickers, badges, and so forth; die-hard fans have probably sold off their existing Clash collections just to afford it”
Boston Globe: The writer Stuart Munro focuses on the price of the box set and I’m more than aware others partially share that concern. Whilst I totally support the ‘you don’t have to buy it if you don’t want to’ argument, I think compared with other box sets I’ve owned this one does work out to be particulary expensive especially per disc and in terms of the ratio of what you’ll already own. Whether the new remasters can count as ‘you don’t already own it’ is also open to debate, plus I’m still in the process listening to them so I’m undecided.
“… in the end, this is a collection that will appeal only to a completist, and there’s likely very little here that he or she will not already own, which makes those ancillary tchotchkes and that replica boombox an expensive proposition”
What must be considered is that the box of remastered studio albums only is however very reasonably priced and I think an avenue that many will take after hearing the work that Mick Jones has put in. Nobody is ‘reviewing’ them that way however which is a pity. I expect there will be more reviews in the days ahead so anticipate a part II and by all means I welcome and encourage your reviews. If you fancy adding to the comments feel free and if you want to compose 400+ words I’ll make it a featured post on the blog. Fair enough?