If you are a Clash fan, buy this book immediately.
At the end of last year a new book about The Clash was released. It’s a year by year history of the band and it’s terrific for three reasons. First, most of the book is simply the band telling their own story. Many hours of interviews were recorded during the making of Don Letts’ excellent documentary Westway to the World and these form the basis of the book. There are many entertaining anecdotes and I learned quite a bit about the band’s history, the origins of the various songs, and the tensions that led to the breakup. We are fortunate the interviews took place before Joe Strummer’s untimely passing. Second, it’s packed with great photos and other interesting visual bits like pages from songbooks, Topper Headon’s postcards, and record sleeves. Third, it lists all the dates of the various tours and recaps the set list on each one. It’s cool to be able to see how the set list changed over time and the covers they chose to do. I think the bridging material could have used another edit, as there were a few errors that crept in. One tour had its final date in Turku, a city in Finland, and this is correctly listed in the tour schedule. The text, however, says the last show was in Turkey. That stuff is generally minor though and perhaps it’ll be cleaned up in the softback edition that’s due this year. Overall The Clash by The Clash is a essential document of one of the greatest punk bands of all time. No Elvis, Beatles, or the Rolling Stones in 1977!