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Ive been meaning to write a review of this DVD for ages, since Christmas in fact, when I received it as a much welcome present. Remember Christmas?! Yes, its taken me three months but now Ive done it
Im still fairly new to the world of DVDs so the novelty of the good quality and handy menu features which are not found on most videos still delights me! Especially in the case of a DVD of long time much loved band with the lead singer, Joe Strummer, sadly prematurely passed on.
Enough preamble, lets get on to the important stuff! The Clash were one of my favourite bands when I was in my teens (a long time ago!) and remained so. I own all their albums and most singles (on that funny old black vinyl stuff) but sadly had never had a video of them so when I saw The Essential Clash DVD in the shops some time ago last year I dropped some appropriate subtle hints people as Christmas loomed and luckily my cunning plan worked!
The DVD comes in the standard clip open plastic case accompanied by a colour biographical booklet inside. It was released on Sony Music Ltd in 2003 and is marked as being suitable for Mature Audiences 16 Years and Over(!) For your money you get approximately 90 minutes worth of promotional videos, some TV clips, live bits and a special exclusive silent movie made by Joe Strummer, in black and white, featuring the band (Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Nicky Topper Headon) aswell as various friends and acquaintances acting in a spoof gangster movie. There is also a full discography with sample tracks and the expected interactive menu so that you can select tracks or skip bits as desired.
The highlights for me are the first twelve tracks of live and promotional videos the memories came flooding back! I have to confess the first time I watched this DVD it was through tears both of nostalgia and the sadness of Joe Strummers death a couple of years ago. The Clash always refused to appear on Top of the Pops so those of you old enough would recognise a lot of these tracks as those shown in place of the band appearing. The DVD launches with a Clash on Broadway trailer before heading straight into White Riot, followed by Complete Control (my favourite!), Tommy Gun, Clampdown, Train in Vain, London Calling, Bankrobber, The Call Up, Rock the Casbah, Should I Stay or Should I Go (live) and Career Opportunities (live). Everyone a gem, both musically and visually, and compelling to watch. A couple of the earlier tracks are marred by what is probably damage to original video master copies with what looks like tracking problems but it is minor and doesnt spoil the viewing, in fact in may even be intended! Im not sure as the particular tracks in question I had not seen for a long time, if at all, so I cant remember.
After these comes Hell W10 the aforementioned film written and directed by Joe Strummer and made in 1983 while the band were on a break in between touring. The film is black and white and silent (as far as dialogue goes) with the old style dialogue frames and set to various Clash instrumental tunes from throughout their career. The music is great but I have to confess I found the film itself hard going and didnt persevere with watching it after about the first twenty minutes or so.
The film is followed by some promotional footage and interviews from television in the mid-late seventies including rare and unseen footage and then there is the discography, with a live version of I Fought the Law.
This being a present (and a great one!) I dont know how much it cost but a little internet research shows it being available from about £15 - £20 depending where you shop and it seems to be available from all the expected outlets such as HMV, Virgin, Amazon, etc.
Apart from the slight struggle through the film in the middle I loved every minute of it and it the DVD provides a wonderful visual catalogue of the The Clashs relatively short existence from 1976 to 1984. For any old (or not so old!) Clash fan I would certainly agree that this is Essential as the title suggests!