We Are The Clash: Reagan, Thatcher, and the Last Stand of a Band That Mattered by Mark Andersen, Ralph Heibutzki review


Synopsis (as taken from GoodReads)

The Clash was an incendiary paradox of revolutionary conviction, musical ambition, and commercial drive. We Are The Clash is a gripping tale of how the band—fractured by its Top 10 success—fought to reinvent and purify itself as George Orwell’s 1984 loomed. This extraordinary effort crashed headlong into a wall of internal contradictions, personal tragedy, and rising rightwing power as personified by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

While the world teetered on the nuclear abyss, British miners waged a life-or-death strike, and tens of thousands died from US guns in Central America, Clash co founders Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon set out to rebuild the band after ejecting guitarist Mick Jones and drummer Topper Headon. Bolstered by coconspirators Bernard Rhodes and Kosmo Vinyl, and three twentysomething recruits—drummer Peter Howard and guitarists Nick Sheppard and Vince White—The Clash launched a desperate last stand, shattering the band just as its controversial final album, Cut the Crap, was emerging.


This book follows The Clash in their last few years against a social, and political backdrop. The events in this book focus around the time when the band was falling apart. At this point Topper was gone off on his own suffering from major drug addiction, Jones was gone-sacked from the band, and manager Rhodes was back (ultimately what changed the band).

“Cut the Crap’ album was out, envisioned by the way Rhodes’ wanted it. Ultimately not what The Clash was but rather what someone thought was appropriate for the changing times.  I noticed one review that stated it felt forced to make the political connection at that time between the band and events in the world. I agree. While The Clash was political in what they thought in saw and the anarchy of it, this was the time that no one knew where they were or what was going on with them. It may have been different if they focused more on the bands early years. Overall I enjoyed the photographs in the book and the book itself as it gave a good insight to the band.

I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about the band itself as it does show their later history. Just go into knowing this was a time when they had disappeared, so the connection -or lack there of- feels kind of forced. Still 4/5 stars.

***I received this book from Akashic in exchange for an honest review***

Shelved: Music, Nonfiction
Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: July 3rd 2018 by Akashic Books

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