Rise And Fall

I found this excellent documentary on Youtube over the weekend, The Rise And Fall Of The Clash, directed by Danny Garcia and co-written by Mick’s schoolmate (and subject of Stay Free) Robin Banks. The footage and talking head interviews are fairly standard but within this film lurks some awkward and uncomfortable truths. The title is a bit of a misnomer- it’s about the fall of the band rather than their rise and the aftermath of their gigs at Shea Stadium where they seemed to have cracked the US with a hit lp (Combat Rock) and a pair of singles (Rock The Casbah and Should I Stay Or Should I Go?). The causes of the fall are pretty well known- Topper’s sacking, Joe’s insistence on bringing Bernie Rhodes back as manager, Mick’s timekeeping, the internal and political contradictions of being famous and successful versus being a political band who started out in a squat- but this film has some insightful interviews with some of the main players and bystanders- Mick Jones himself, Pearl Harbour (Paul’s girlfriend at the time), security man Raymond Jordan, Terry Chimes/Tory Crimes, Viv Albertine, Tymon Dogg, Mickey Gallagher and Vic Goddard. The cast are divided about Bernie Rhodes, central to the story and the split- some think he’s an anarchic genius who gave The Clash an edge they needed. Some think he’s an enormous bellend.

The second half of the film is where it becomes less well-known and more compulsive. The story of The Clash Mk2, without the sacked Mick Jones and with three new members- Pete Howard, Nick Shepherd and Greg ‘Vince’ White. The treatment these three got was, to be frank, appalling and how Joe and Paul went along with it is jaw dropping. Vince White deserves some kind of award. Joe and Paul then go onto to record and then leave to Bernie to finish and mix the Cut The Crap album, a record largely expunged from the official histories of the band. Grim, uncomfortable and fascinating stuff. Even if you’ve little interest in The Clash or think you’ve seen enough Clash documentaries, you should set aside ninety minutes for this.

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