Any punk-infused blog worth the piss and vinegar powering its backend best put forth videos. Below you’ll find my favorite footage of The Clash or solo Joe Strummer selected, of course, only after multiple viewings and often in consultation with other music sickos. Note: This is a work in progress, so I’ve certainly left plenty of riveting stuff out. Quality covers and Clash contenders at the end.
- Might as well begin in the beginning, that is, Year Zero, 1977, with this proto-video of “White Riot.” Jonesy is really outdoing Strummer here in the energy-tremens department. I can’t believe how powerful they were even without a true audience feeding them.
- Shockingly high-quality clip of “Police and Thieves” from Munich in 1977. Paul looks like punk porn on two legs; I want to eat him like a chicken drumstick with a beer.
- This wouldn’t be complete without the official clip for “London Calling,” shot by official Clash documentarian Don Letts. Those smart black blazers offset by flecks of red and their ghostly pallors make up one of my earliest video memories. Of course, it was raining.
- “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais” is off the U.S. version of The Clash, but this almost jovial staging dates from 1980 in New Jersey, according to AdamRamone1234′s Clash-rich Youtube channel. Marks the first time I’ve heard Mickey Gallagher’s organ off an official recording.
- I confess I’m not a fan of Rude Boy (1980), except for the rockumentary bits featuring The Clash playing the “Rock Against Racism” concert. Then I stumbled across this clip of Joe playing “Let the Good Times Roll” at the piano. You can hear his love of American R&B—and see the hot-pink Clash flight cases.
- In June 1981, during their seven-night residency at Bonds, The Clash appeared on The Tomorrow Show. This interview is pure gold, with Strummer, Jones, Simonon, and Headon turning up the charm to 11. The teddy bear prop is priceless, as is Jonesy when he says pooh-pooh. I challenge you to find a clip that better depicts the boys as a united front.
- Also from their 1981 appearance on The Tomorrow Show: a pounding version of “The Magnificent Seven.” You can hear the studio roof cooking; proof that Englishmen have rhythm. Look at ‘em move!
- I’d deserve a tar and feathering for omitting the gritty and frenetic pastiche of concert footage (from Bonds), news reports, and urban documentary that is “This Is Radio Clash,” another example of Don Letts’s work.
- If it’s not obvious already, allow me to say my favorite Clash era is Sandinsta!—all that crazy colliding of influences in a marijuana cloud! Here we have the boys live in Japan circa 1982 performing one of my favorite tracks, “Charlie Don’t Surf.”
- Official video for the anti-draft single “The Call Up” (which I own on vinyl). Their jungle adventurer/DMZ getup is ridiculous, and yet they’re still so commanding.
- Just for fun: Martin Scorsese on meeting The Clash around 1981 (they were extras in The King of Comedy).
- From the golden days of the summer of 1981, we go to the sad, seething disintegration era of 1983. I’ve included this bit from the US Festival mainly for Strummer’s snarling intro: “I need some hostility here…” He’s clearly not just angry at the tepid crowd, but himself.
- Arcade Fire does justice to “Guns of Britxton” with a hurdy gurdy.
- I can find no trace of an official video, so you get this crap fan montage. It’s one of the best covers I’ve heard of a Clash song. Ladies and gents, Miss Lily Allen doing “Straight to Hell” with Mick Jones at the controls.
- “Burning Lights (I Hired a Contract Killer)” comes from the 1990 soundtrack to the 1990 Aki Kaurismaki film of the same name. Joe looks gorgeous and sounds fantastic singing “the last of the buffalo.” Thanks, J.
- First heard “Trash City,” which Joe recorded with the Latino Rockabilly War, on Joe’s WFMU appearance. You can hear the seeds of The Mescaleros. A fine little tune.
- I’m ashamed to admit how long it took me to get around to hearing The Libertines. Anyways, they’re forever in heavy rotation in my brain’s radio station now. “Up the Bracket” from their debut alum of the same name kills. Peter Doherty’s harrowing vulnerability recalls Strummer’s—he doesn’t perform so much as plug in to whatever energy is in the world.
- I like The Hold Steady because they’re so damn Midwestern and earnest; no artifice or flash, like the boys I ran with in high school and college. There’s more than a streak of Strummer’s populist politics in singer Craig Finn’s lyrics. Take “Constructive Summer” and its wonderful homage to Joe (“I think he might’ve been our only decent teacher”).