The Clash: Every Album, Every Song
published: 14 /
Nick Assirati sets out to make the music of The Clash accessible to newcomers and/or younger fans. Fiona Hutchings investigates whether he succeeds.
The aim of this book is simple: to chronologically lay out the entire musical career of The Clash from end to end. Assirati succeeds in balancing a fan’s natural enthusiasm for forensic detail and the need to keep a book concise and approachable for a more casual reader. He doesn't sacrifice sharing his own opinions in the process though. His passion for the subject is not dimmed in any sense.
The Clash are a band who burned so brightly and so indelibly into the shared musical consciousness that it still shocks me when I realise they were active for only a decade or so. There are only 6 studio albums and, even though one of those is a double and another a triple, that still feels like a very lean body of work. Assirati narrows it down further because in his opinion 1985's 'Cut The Crap' "is not a Clash album and it is fucking awful." He goes through each track all the same. He also doesn't hold back on his feelings about each one. After all, being a fan is not the same as being totally uncritical of our heros, plus sycophantically written books are a total bore to read.
The book follows a pleasingly simple pattern: the band are introduced, and as we go through each track of each album, their story unfolds. We go further though into compilations, selected rarities and bootlegs. This isn't just to narrow down the ones worth tracking down: Assirati also gives very useful advice on how to buy all The Clash’s music, while sidestepping the record companies usual trap of making you buy the same tracks repeatedly, just under different covers.
As well as several pages of colour shots of albums, singles, concert tickets and live performances, cartoons from renowned cartoonist Steve Bell pepper the text. In 1980, Bell had contributed his own interpretation of the lyrics to ‘Ivan Meets G.I. Joe’ to the lyric sheet on Sandinista!
The book finishes with notes on The Clash's appearance on film and video. All told, this relatively slim book is packed with information and opinions. It could easily be dry and repetitive, but instead grabs you by the collar on page one and doesn’t let go. Even if you never read anything else about The Clash before, this book will give you plenty of facts and insights and leave you feeling better informed than you were before.