The Clash: From Here to Eternity

[26 October 1999]

By Mark Reiter

There’s little left to be said about the Clash that doesn’t smack of nostalgia and good ol’ days bitching. Remember when? Not of all us do. I’m 27 and despite all the back issues of Rolling Stone I tore through just to catch a glimpse of them and the hours and hours I spent listening to London Calling, their greatness never really translated into power for me. I only realized their ghost haunting the music I loved in the years after their demise. But there’s more rock and roll spirit in the first 25 seconds of “Train in Vain” than the whole of ‘90s punk rock. And right now I’m seeing the painful truth. The soul The Clash shot through rock might be the only thing keeping it alive. So thank God this live document is finally available for mass consumption. Good old days or not.

The Clash always spit justice and indignation and live they dished it out in spades. No one’s matched ‘em for sheer righteousness and conviction. And in these here cynical days—ain’t no one likely to step up to the plate with the same size bat or balls. If the studio recordings were punk rock’s Bible, these live tracks are its revival meeting. Loose and explosive, the Clash put the “punks can’t play” axiom out to pasture for good. The things that got lost in the muddy ‘70s production of the early Clash discs, namely Topper Headon’s amazing drumming and Paul Simonon’s melodic bass, shimmer on this live disc. It’s worth its cost just for that.

But if newfound clarity and intensity aren’t enough for ya, buy it for the absolutely chilling version of “Straight to Hell.” Which isn’t just the Clash’s finest hour—it’s one of rock’s most haunting moments.

From Here to Eternity‘s only flaw? It makes so much other stuff seem, well, irrelevant. (Editor’s note: The song selection is a bit suspect at times too. I mean, “City of the Dead”? Come on. Where’s “I’m So Bored with the USA” or “English Civil War”—much better choices.)

Standout Tracks: “Career Opportunities,” “Capital Radio,” “Train in Vain,” “Straight to Hell”

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/clash-from/