The Clash - From Here to Eternity: Live (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Clash

From Here to Eternity: Live (1999)


Some 17 years removed from From Here to Eternity, we can now reflect on the Clash’s first official live LP with some objectivity. When the album was first released, it was gobbled up by the fan base. The Clash were fairly renown for their fiery live shows, yet, for all the talk, there was nary a document of the only band that mattered in a live setting aside from a few stray live cuts.

Well, with some distance, it’s now safe to say: From Here to Eternity was a botched-job. The problem that Clash compilations usually have is that while the general population might know “Rock the Casbah,” “Should I Stay or should I Go,” and maybe “Train in Vain,” those songs don’t fully represent the band. So, studio comps usually space songs out of chronological order, resulting in herky-jerky releases.

So, perhaps understanding that, yet still wanting to play to the masses who knew the hits, Epic cobbled together a release that cherry picked live tracks from all eras of the Clash, but played the tunes in chronological order.

The problem being, that while the tracklist was chronological, the recordings were not. Opening track, “Complete Control” was from the 1981 Bonds shows, not the original ’77 era. But then, the album jumps to a ’78 recording of “London’s Burning.”

The Clash aged decades in years and they were a wildly different band in 81 than 78. So, despite having songs from the same era next to each, the band sounds drastically different from track-to-track. The individual songs are fine recordings, and in the case of tunes like “London’s Burning,” “What’s my name,” and “City of the Dead,” the band is mega-jacked up and tear the roof off.

But, because we jump from era to era, the release itself never builds up momentum and seems to have to reestablish itself with its new face every track. And honestly, it doesn’t really help the release that it starts with the oldest tracks and ends with the newest. It just makes the release feel that much more oddly weighed.

Why studio execs insist on making “multiple show” live albums I’ll never know. Single show live recordings almost always blow away their counterparts. Who cares if there is a missed note here or there? Energy beats technical perfection every time. Look no further than The Ramones It’s Alive for proof of that. Also, what’s up with the horribly generic cover? There was nary a live shot to be found?

Still, Eternity does have some redeeming qualities. The tunes themselves are fine representations of the band. Yet, with all the bootlegs out there, surely one could have been cleaned up. Or, being as the famed Bonds shows are represented here, why not just issue the entire Bonds set? Or how about the amazing ’78 shows heard on this? Where is that disc?

Perhaps aware of this, Epic execs would release a single show Clash live album a few years later with Live at Shea Stadium, and sure enough, it corrected pretty much every issue found in Eternity. Still, where’s the London’s Calling era live record? How about something from ’77? This release proves they are out there… But, why are they being kept under lock and key? That’s a devilish design that only the (formerly) huge record industry could have forged.