DVD Review: ‘Revolution Rock’ yields sparse introduction
The Clash Live: Revolution Rock DVD provides an introduction to "the only band that matters."
The DVD features 22 live performances spanning the entire career of The Clash narrated by former collaborator and Grammy award-winning producer Don Letts. All of The Clash’s biggest hits performed live in various settings and at different times in their career are here such as; "London Calling," "White Riot," "Train in Vain," "I Fought the Law" and "Should I Stay Or Should I Go," Hit-single "Rock The Casbah" and many tracks off the quintessential ‘Clash album, London Calling, were mysteriously omitted from the track listing. The best performance is "Career Opportunities" from 1981’s tour with The Who at New York’s Shea Stadium.
In between live performances, Letts provides commentary about the history of The Clash, discussing the band’s beginnings in the early punk scene to its final live performances. The DVD also sheds light on a situation that occurred in New York in the 1980s when promoters overbooked a small venue for The Clash’s four day long gig. While most bands would have left after the four-day stay, The Clash stayed to accommodate their fans and added a week-long schedule of shows in addition to what they already agreed to play.
The commentary and content between performances are brief and introductory at best. Letts never goes into much detail about the history of the band, providing the viewer only a slight glimpse into the world of The Clash. The DVD gives little attention to the band’s breakup or legacy.
Most of us weren’t even alive to witness The Clash’s storied career. The Clash was Mick Jones (guitar), Topper Headon (drums), Paul Simonon (bass) and the late-great Joe Strummer (guitar/vocals). The Clash was the first punk band to break away from the genre’s strict and confining rules. The band incorporated dance hall/disco tempos, reggae, ska and jazz in their UK-rock sound. Their being the first punk band to delve into this type of experimentation opened the doors for future bands to think outside the box.
The Clash also pioneered intelligent politics in punk rock. A message to the music always came across in Strummer’s simple yet effective lyrics. While the Sex Pistols were advocating anarchy, The Clash supported smart, leftist politics. They always stayed true to their ethos, insisting on cheap ticket prices to their shows and reasonably priced albums.
Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan were all noted fans of The Clash. Most modern rock bands can pay homage to the influence and legacy of The Clash, especially bands such as Green Day and Rancid. Strummer will arguably be remembered as one the most beloved and talented songwriters of all time.
The DVD runs only 81 minutes, with bonus features limited to interviews with NBC’s Tom Snyder from 1981. The 22 live performance videos are entertaining and provide this generation an opportunity to see the band perform, but otherwise the DVD comes up short.
The lack of in-depth bonus features and commentary make for a rather incomplete DVD, keeping The Clash Live: Revolution Rock from reaching the documentary-style status its marketing endeavors painted it to be.
If you’re an avid Clash fan or are new to the band, The Clash Live: Revolution Rock is a nice addition but far from being an essential DVD for the band.