Last Gang in Town: The Story and Myth of the Clash

Marcus Gray, Author
Marcus Gray, Author Henry Holt & Company $25 (512p) ISBN 978-0-8050-4640-3
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Paperback - 528 pages - 978-0-8050-4641-0
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The notorious British band the Sex Pistols has reformed, and fashion trends are beginning to cannibalize the late 1970s, so the moment seems ripe to look back at the fertile time that gave birth to the punk era. As we learn from this exhaustive group biography, the London-based Clash, the other major band besides the Sex Pistols to emerge from the punk movement, enjoyed a potent and reasonably enduring musical career. But British rock writer Gray's (It Crawled from the South) chronicle may not provide the last word. As he relates the history of the band, he fails to elucidate the Clash's importance or to bring to life the energetic nihilism of its ethos. He has researched his subject thoroughly, however, albeit mostly from secondary sources, and he spares few details in this lengthy study. We learn much of leader Mick Jones's early life, of the group's formative stages and of how it frequently had to fend off accusations that its political stances were nothing but theatrics. But at times the minutiae overwhelm the spectacle, dulling the impact of an otherwise diligent report on the vital milieu that, for a while, clad youth and underground culture in black leather and silver studs. Photos. Rights (other than first serial): Fourth Estate. (Sept.)
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