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THE CLASH - Live At Shea Stadium   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Tuesday, 14 October 2008

“I don't think there's any need for another Clash product on the market. Joe Strummer would be turning in his grave if he'd seen what the band have become today. You know what the Clash originally stood for and we don't stand for that anymore. The Clash were 30 years ago. None of us are really that bothered anymore and so people are moving in and making money out of it.” - Topper Headon.



It was with a heavy heart that I approached the release of The Clash At Shea Stadium. After a multitude of endlessly repackaged selections, box sets, half-bothered concert releases, comes what Clash fans have actually wanted all along : a live document that captures a whole evening of The Clash. Aside from the potentially exploitative nature of the beast, “Live At The Shea” is a sumptiously packaged document that is musically precise, clear, and a superior – and worthy – live recording.

Still, it must be odd to see one of the years larger releases come into existence through the most haphazard of fashions : Joe Strummer looking in a box during a house move seven years ago, and suddenly and voila, finding this concert on an old tape, and hey presto! Another Clash live album!

And up until the very day this was released, 25 years after Mick Jones was fired and The Clash floundered, there has been no adequate and official Clash live document : “From Here To Eternity” was a compilation that lacked any narrative flow, “Rude Boy” a forgettable piece of hokum populated by stunning live footage, and “Revolution Rock” a live jukebox that feels like a trailer instead of the main course itself.

But Live At The Shea? This is IT. The definitive Clash live document. Now, purists will declaim Terry Chimes on drums (and the drums are lacking the flair of Topper Headon), but Chimes is a competent, capable, human drum machine that locks down the rhythm with a rigid precision and effortlessly gels with Paul Simoneon's bass to create a fiercely effective unit. On top of this powerful juggernaut of rhythm, Mick Jones and Strummer add a creative monster. The band meanwhile, are a tight, invincible army : the songs turn on a head, the opening numbers are presented as a machine gun assualt with barely a seconds breath or punctuation, and the Clash truly are All Guns Blazing. No second is wasted. And the band are still inventive, still taking risks, presenting fluid, thrilling and fresh medleys that reveal a previously unhinted thematic link between material brand new and ancient. It's over in a short 50 minutes, a brief, thrilling time capsule to a time long gone, a testament to a dream that was beautiful, brief, and right. Live At The Shea is THE Clash live album : accept no imitations, and do not be fooled by the glut of pointless “The Very Best of The Essential Clash In The West End” compilations. If you like The Clash, this should join your record collection now. You've waited long enough for it.

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