speaking? The Clash Live at Shea Stadium is a an immediate
classic in live concert audio dynamite. Sure, I’m biased,
but don’t take my word for it. If your a Clash fan, buy
it and give a listen.
was a stormy night…New York was closing down for the day
as a soft rain softly wetted the backs of 50,000 music fans gathered
Stadium’s hallowed fields. The Who, a rock ‘em
sock ‘em group of walking icons (sans their original drummer
Keith “Bombastic” Moon) were playing one of their
many final tour shows.
Townsend - the soul of The
Who - was a Clash fan and had fought to get the band on the
bill. Yes The Clash was The Who's back up band. The young group
of rabblegobbers had come a long way. And they'd sprung upon the
USA with the intensity of mosquitoes who happened upon a girl
scout campfire gathering. In a great circle-of-life-way, it was
not unlike The Who had done themselves a mere couple of decades
before. Once Townsend and the blokes were the rabblegobbers causing
mom's to shudder anddad's to fetch their shootin' pistols.
for me, it's a hearty laugh to think of The Clash as back up band;
"weddings parties...anything...and bongo jams a specialty."
here at Shea, it is said half the audience was there to see the
Brixton edged boys, the other half the Shepards Bush geezers (Clash
and The Who). David Johansson of the NYC
Dolls was also on the bill as the sun set lest we all forget....the
whole affair was a great bill of talents really. Like those misty
days of old when five really well-known bands (of simular age
groups) shared an evening of musical mayhem to the delight of
the CD, after
an obligatory intro by tour manager (aka a friend along for the
wine and frolics) Kosmo Vinyl, Joe welcomes the throngs to the
Casbah Club. And without a skip the boys begin with "London
Calling." Here's the only hint of promotion manager manipulation
to be found. You can pretty much bet some dollar wanker in the
background told the band to "play that song every one knows
- so they all know you...."
they rip into"Police on my Back," by Mick. Immediately
after is Paul's "Guns of Brixton."
after each has been given a turn at the mic, they wallop with
"Tommy Gun," "Armageddon Time," "The
Magnificent Seven" has an in-and-out version, "Rock
the Casbah," Train in Vain," " Career Opportunities,"
" Spanish Bombs," "Clampdown," "English
Civil War," "Should I Stay or Should I Go," and
"I fought the Law." Their usually driving set style
- if a couple of hours short.
thing noticeable in the audio is the crisp annunciation of every
word. Every lyric is understandable...not always true on the albums...
music is pristine. You can also hear every assault of Joe's manic
strumming upon his strings, picture Paul's famous erotic bass
playing throughout, and be reminded of Mick's way of kind of schoolyard
scuffling with his poor guitar - as if to beat the notes out of
it. And yes, you are even reminded that Topper was a viable member
back there pounding away on the drums.
Whatever the decades-old battle of fanatics' debate of who - ahem,
excuse me - which group, had the bigger draw at the time, The
Clash rocked it, ahem, out of the park as it were. And until now,
the group's love-it-or-leave-it video for “Should
I Stay or Should I Go” was all global fans ever saw
or heard of this two-day concert stop. The tapes disappeared somewhat
like an everlasting gobbstopper without Charlie to surf in and
save our day.
lore behind this wonderful collection of auditory glory says it
resurfaced quite by accident as Joe Strummer literally stumbled
on to the lost tapes in a box while moving. His widow has since
had the kindness to share with the world.
be fair, live music is always for the fans. This is no exception
frankly. But, the quality of recordings takes the works to an
A+ level over any bootlegs you may presently have adorning your
A subtle clue as to the state of the band behind the scenes may
even be gleemed from Joe Strummer's quips. They are often a tad
perturbed and pointed. One has to briefly wonder if this was the
ghost of band-break-up future eking through. The honeymoon was
over between the music mates by this concert date – but
their commitment to rock the casbah (sorry) does not relent for
no way the live sounds capture the residual energy you were volted
with while drenched in a Clash show – these things never
do for any non-present listeners. Yet you can clearly sense their
live presence power. And the group’s runaway train pace
was an absolute reflection of the way Clash fans - as a unit -
seemed to hold themselves; fast foward blasting toward the future;
with really cool beats and surprisingly deep lyrics for the generation.
I think of Shea as the show that got away…that is until