Local Wire

The Clash

Disc one: London Calling, the original, remastered and all that. Brilliant, beautiful, nostalgic, powerful and perfect.

Disc two: "The Vanilla Tapes," lost and found rehearsal and demo tracks. A sketchbook jam pad pile of tasty odds and ends. A Clash fan's dream.

Disc three: a DVD containing a 45-minute documentary of the band members' London Calling sessions, with sober commentary about who they were, what they were, why they were. It also contains a bunch of raw black and white material, mostly of loony, late producer and guru Guy Stevens cavorting and coaxing spirit and soul from the band, which was in a state of flux. If the bashing, thrashing, Elvis-inspired ironic cover of London Calling represents something, it's Stevens.

Joe Strummer is dead. The Clash and its music aren't. Death or glory, they sang, becomes just another story. The politics and irony, so fresh in 1979, are gone, and what's left sounds far more traditional than it did at the time -- but London Calling is no less glorious.

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Henry Cabot Beck