Greetings to you all from a very sunburnt Clash Blogger. A wonderful weekend at the beach was had featuring lovely weather, sand castle tributes to The Clash and Arsenal, good food and drink, just avoiding getting hit in the head whilst swimming by keen surfer dudes and of course more sun than my Anglo/Irish skin was counting on in late September. A great weekend all the same and I hope yours was good also with less of the sun burny aspects.
Part two today of the various reviews of Sound System that are filling the internet. By now you’ve probably seen the videos of the unboxing, gauged the feedback on social media and in many cases already emptied your piggy bank to make an investment but in case you’re wanting more reviews then here you go. Incidentally you can hear most of it on Spotify if you wish and if your computer is wired to a good stereo system (hence my listening thus far) you can make your own mind up on the remastering work by Mick Jones. In fact putting all the extras aside the remastering might be be the primary reason for the box set beyond those who are completists.
UK Charts: As predicted last week the album Hits Back peaked the week it came out at number 13, dropping yesterday to number 31 whilst Sound System fell off the charts entirely which was probably to be expected. Sony (probably) knew that the first 10 days would be key to sales, at least you’d assume so.
Austin Chronicle: (5 out of 5) - long version – When I go to find album reviews the last place I usually check is the Austin Chronicle, however at the same time it’s good to know in the independent heart of Texas that The Clash still get reviewed. It’s a brief, standard and approximately glowing review that misses the mark in calling the early material the biggest beneficiary of the remastering, the longer review also linked does a better job overall. To my ears I think the improved sound most aids Sandinista! and Combat Rock bringing a broader and fuller sound to both.
“The sonic upgrade sounds best on the earliest material: vicious 45s “White Riot,” “Complete Control,” and the self-titled debut”
New Noise Magazine: A trip down memory lane from the writer but a heartfelt review of the boxset. I always find it interesting to read reviews from those who found out about The Clash a bit later on, in some ways they treat the exploration of the band more like archaeology and the resulting finds like treasure from a bygone age. Which I suppose makes sense; if we’re still kicking about as a species in a century I think that The Clash and punk music will continue to be seen as the perfect response to an industry that was in serious decline at the time. There are those that will say punk failed to change things but the lasting impact was much deeper than the way the record labels operated.
“While the naysayers will predictably decry the commerciality of all three new releases, and declare the surviving members to be sell-outs, I’m happy to have virtually any worthwhile new release from the band’s vaults, and these, especially theSound System box certainly qualify”
Ultimate Classic Rock: (8 out of 10) Fuck me, bracketing The Clash under a genre that sounds more apt for a hamburger title than music really depresses me and the thoughts of the band slowly being sidelined under the guise of ‘Classic Rock’ is unsettling at best. Never liked the term and (with all respect) it should certainly be reserved for the songsmiths who worked pre-1976 in my humble. All the same it’s another review and they do point out that The Clash have already been ‘compiled to death’ which I think says more about CBS/Sony than it does The Clash. Few of the reviews, this one included, seem to have taken the time to evalaute the ‘Clash style’ of the packaging and extras most specifically the extra issue of Arm. Times which is a pity and an oversight.
“The dozen or so previously unreleased tracks used as bait for fans who might be wary of plopping down more than $100 for music they mostly already own range from so-so live cuts and sketchy demos to remixes found on 12-inch singles the Clash released in the early ’80s”
PopMatters: (7 out of 10) A decent review that almost ties itself in knots asking whether such a release serves the band well. While applauding the remasters and canon of work of the five studio albums the extra discs and the dvd included seem to fall somewhere short of the mark. There is no doubt that the box will be the ultimate collection of the work of The Clash the debates over the dvd and extras might be a longer running conversation. I personally think this was the perfect chance to enhance the available selections of live music by The Clash (and something featuring Topper for goodness sake) even if it wasn’t all from a single gig, instead the non-album singles and 12″ versions plus b-sides took up space on the box when this material is typically already owned. The best avenue for live Clash music may always remain the bootlegged path.
“This is, of course, the problem with creating boxed sets. Include everything and some fans and critics will wonder how some things made the cut. Fail to include enough, fans and critics will demand to know why something obscure failed to make the cut”
As far as I can tell there will be a final part 3 of these reviews when some of the monthly publications get their act together and I know I’ve missed a few published in the last 72 hours so expect that and more in the days ahead. Huge thanks also to those who follow the Facebook page as we just passed the 10,000 mark (daft) and also reached a million visits to the blog last Friday (outrageous). Thank you for reading and enjoy your week.