Good morning from a frosty but sunny Clash Blog towers, thanks for making your way back to the blog. Hope your year is off to a brilliant or at least a reasonable beginning, I have to say that things are good here so I won’t curse it by saying anything….
A little bit of housekeeping is in order first today so a reminder for those of you in or near to Brighton on the south coast of England. Come on even those in London can make it down by train and make a weekend of it by the sea. The annual Joe Strummer tribute takes place this Saturday (Jan 5th) evening at 7pm at Komedia. Full information via this link, ages 14+ and admission is £13.00. One of the very best Clash tribute acts ‘Take the Fifth’ are headlining and the night also features The Sex Pistols, Experience, Groovy 101 and Radio Clash. In addition DJs will be spinning Clash and Joe tunes all night. I hope some of you will make it along.
Right then, on to other things. Most of you have probably noticed that the ‘official’ www.theclash.com website is now live and redux. It came back online late last month and has been totally overhauled. I’d love to tell you that it is a fantastic site, full of information you’ve never read before, photos and videos that are hard to find and all of this designed for easy navigation and interaction whether you are brand new to the band or a long standing Clash nut. I’d love to tell you all of that but none of it would be true.
I need to try and be objective though, this is the official site and will by default get tens of thousands of visits every week. Based solely on that I was expecting a great deal more, particularly as it has been so long in the making. Instead it looks like a standard band website and the main reason for it to exist sadly seems to be the store where you can get officially licensed t-shirts for $30 / £20 plus shipping. I anticipate the box set will be added there shortly too. The site looks like Sony Music just decided they needed something official out there, so they’ve added photos of each single and album, a handful of official videos and excerpts from the band’s history – mostly taken or reworked from the Big Pink Clash Book as best I can tell. Perhaps it will improve in time?
When you first visit the site visually it looks alright and promises a lot, a bit like the sleeve of Cut The Crap perhaps. A camouflaged boombox with a cassette spinning plus a radio dial that you can spin to look at different years of the band’s history and buttons for the tape deck that take you to Albums/Singles/Video/Gallery/ Gigs and Store. That all looks decent but it was when I started exploring the site that I felt let down. The information keeps repeating itself, there really is not that much to read and nothing seemingly new. For a site that Sony claims is ‘run by The Clash’ some sort of official welcome message and newsfeed would have been encouraging. With further research I see the site is made by the same team who built websites for Kasabian, Calvin Harris and Amy McDonald. I realise as I write this I sound quite negative but that is because I was expecting so much more, considering how long there has been no official site I thought something special was probably forthcoming - a site that would feel like the band were behind it. Instead it looks like a tumblr page with a bunch of photos and very little substance. Trying to summarise important moments in the history of the band in two sentence snippets seems lazy and unambitious to me.
Is it all bad? I do like the ‘gallery’ section which includes original interviews and photos from the actual reproduced pages of the NME and such, however even that flatters to deceive as when you click on the image it is still far too small to read the text. The other area with potential is the gigs section that looks for fans to send in their memories of gigs if they attended them. A worthy idea but already being done with so much more finesse and depth on the Black Market Clash site. In fact that site remains the grade A resource for the band for fact checkers that the new official site would like to be. If you haven’t explored that site in depth it would be time better spent.
Still, it might be in its infancy and see improvements and perhaps there is every chance the bulk of people who visit it will love it. I really wanted to but don’t at all, its average which is not representative of The Clash. It could and should have been so much more interactive with the potential of current web design. What do you think of it, am I being unfair?
Just in case…all images above are the official property of www.theclash.com.