It seems to me that The Clash have a growing reputation as a major influence to modern bands. For this reason, I'm going to condense all my feelings for this band into one review of a 3-CD boxed set that came out a few years ago.
I think we all know the story of the Clash, but here's an overview for the kids that don't: After seeing a Sex Pistols show, Mick Jones and his pal Keith Levene decided to start their own punk band. Joe Strummer subsequently quit the 101ers and became joined "The Clash". An art student with absolutely no musical talent at the time, Paul Simonon, was hired to play bass. Early on, they had no definite drummer, but hired Topper Headen after the recording of their first album. And Keith had long dropped out of it by then.
And thus the Clash line up as we know it was born.
The first disc kicks off with a wonderful live version of "Janie Jones", which has much more powerful guitar work than the album version, followed by the rest of their first album, which is probably their best "punk" album, per see. This disc also holds most of their first album, with two live songs on the end, "English Civil War" and "I Fought The Law".
Disc 2 gives you the remainder of their 2nd album, "Give'em Enough Rope", starting off with "European Home". "Tommy Gun" follows it, which really does make for a remarkable flow. Those two songs alone inspired countless bands across the UK and Ireland to make bloody, melodic poetry about the conditions they lived in. After this, a few rarities and singles get you ready for "London Calling". There are only 9 songs from this album on the disc, and curiously enough, some of the weaker tracks are on there, too! I said to myself "Never mind the Guns of Brixton or Brand New Cadillac, where the hell is Ungrateful?". But the selection can't be perfect, and when you condense a bands entire career onto 3 discs, there will be sacrifices. Ending the disc is the hit single "Bankrobber", a haunting reggae tune.
Disc 3 is, of course, the weakest disc of the set. It is totally Sandinista! and Combat Rock dominated. A few jewels are found here and there, yet this disc will probably only be played a few times. The live rendition of "Straight To Hell" is probably this discs greatest track, being a moving song about the Vietnam War.
Overall, this is a great overview of the Clash's career. I was surprised they devoted less of it to the more commercially successful albums than they did. But, that said, if you already have all of these albums, this collection isn't too useful. Not especially FILLED with live numbers or demos, this is only for the people that haven't heard that much of the Clash and would like to get into them or the people that love the Clash, have all of their albums, but only have them on vinyl.
The Clash influenced countless bands, and this is a great testament to their legacy.