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Film: The Rise And Fall Of The Clash

Feeble echo of an earth-shattering Clash

The Rise And Fall Of The Clash

Directed by Danny Garcia (Warner)

2 Stars

The Clash have often been dubbed the only band that mattered from the first wave of British punk.

Their success was built on their ability to speak politically and very directly to a generation suffering an economic crisis, and a ruling-class response to it, in a period with more than passing similarities to today.

You'd think, then, that a "new" look at the band would seek to highlight punk in its social context emerging at the breakdown of the post-war social-democratic consensus as the Tories use the current crisis to finish the job off.

Instead, The Rise And Fall Of The Clash steams through "the rise" - from the early gigs to the landmark Anti-Nazi League festival in east London's Victoria Park to the accusations that they'd sold out by performing US stadium shows.

Even the "fall" of what most would consider The Clash proper is skirted over, with considerable time spent on the band after song-writing supremo Mick Jones had left.

The interviews with Jones's guitar replacements Vince White and Nick Sheppard and drummer Pete Howard are insightful and of particular interest are the frictions between Joe Strummer and manager Bernie Rhodes, cast throughout as the villain of the piece.

But in director Danny Garcia's evident desire not to retread the ground covered by previous documentaries such as Westway To The World, he's ended up with a film concentrating on the band at their worst. With Cut The Crap, they made an album critically panned and without any musical or social bite.

The Rise And Fall may interest diehard Clash fans but the relative newcomer would be well-advised to look elsewhere to truly understand quite why they shattered the world.

James Rodie


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