cover image We Are the Clash: Reagan, Thatcher, and the Last Stand of a Band That Mattered

We Are the Clash: Reagan, Thatcher, and the Last Stand of a Band That Mattered

Mark Andersen and Ralph Heibutzki. Akashic, $18.95 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-61775-293-3

In an ambitious look at the last days of the Clash, music writers Andersen and Heibutzki examine Clash front man Joe Strummer’s struggle for relevance beginning in 1984, nearly a decade after the band was formed. Dazed by stardom, family trouble, and the machinations of manager Bernard Rhodes, Strummer dismissed his guitarist and collaborator Mick Jones from the band (drummer Topper Headon had already been kicked out for his heroin addiction). Without Jones, Strummer worked to combine his R&B roots with his interest in world music; at the same time he was trying to juggle his commitments to political causes, his recording label, and his family. Meanwhile, the authors write, Thatcher and Reagan were attacking workers’ rights and social welfare. During this time, the Clash disintegrated while producing the controversial 1986 album Cut the Crap, which consisted of unfinished songs and was reviewed harshly in the British press. Andersen and Heibutzki’s enlightening reevaluation of this period highlights the band’s final, rabble-rousing 1985 busking tour of Britain, which saw the band play acoustic sets in parking lots, parks, and on street corners, as a remarkable act of defiance against Thatcher’s policies. This is an inspiring take on the rock-band bio format, as much a political history of the 1980s as it is a look at an influential band in its final years. [em](July) [/em]