To this day, I still wonder why it took so long for an official live album by the Clash to appear. The Clash were praised as being a terrific live band. They were full of energy and every song was an explosion of sound. The Clash were also capable of filling arenas. Arenas
for God's sake! They didn't care if they were playing large venues, and if they weren't "punk" enough for the elitists, especially the ones in Great Britain. Live : From Here to Eternity
, though, is slightly dissapointing. The songs were all recorded from 1978-1982, which is a period where the Clash started to blow up in stature, becoming the elder statesmen of punk rock, and just rock and roll in general. What else could you do but drop to your knees and exclaim "We're not worthy!" after taking one listen to London Calling
The songs here, as you may have suspected, are all taken from seperate dates from thos certain years. What is so wonderful about this, though, is that the songs all sound like they were taken from the same date. Each song sounds rather large in stature, with Mick Jones' guitar projecting power chord after powerchord of reverberated sound, Joe Strummer shouting the sociopolitical lyrics, Paul Simonen thumping away on the bass, and Topper Headon, often called "The Human Drum Machine" keep the beat, never letting up. Sure, the parts are all fantastic, but how about the sum of it all?
Well, the song selection is very, vert questionable. The songs representing The Clash's self-titled debut album, are probably someof the weaker songs. Really, does anybody like "What's My Name," the worst song from that album? "London's Burning" is fairly boring and drab live, doing nothing to excite, or even inciting the bobbing of a head or two. We get the rather dapper "City of the Dead," another boring attempt to add some excitement into the album, and is too obscure for anyone new to the band to recognize. There's also "Armaigaden Time" thrown in, probably to represent the band's reggae/dub cred, even though it is a rather good on its own. The rest of the songs, though, are pure Clash bliss. "Career Oppurtunities," although slower than the original version, still rocks out with a vengeance, while Strummer and Jones shout out in unison, to great effect, about unemployment and job oppurtunities in England. "(White Man) In Hamemrsith Palais" is perfect, with the whole band grooving on the raggae-ska bassline and guitar part, with Topper keeping the whole thing down. The song is a perfect example of a ragge-punk song. "Capitol Radio" rocks out loud, with some very nice organ playing, and Joe Strummer slurring out the lyrics, and is one of the fastest songs here. The version of "Train in Vain" here, is almost disco-like, with a nice drum intro and Mick Jones coming in with some reverb and delay added in. The song shakes and rattles, and is much better than the album version. Another disco-funk song represented here is "The Magnificent Seven," which grooves for the whole duration of the song, though slightly faster than the studio version. Strummer even improvises on the lyrics ("This song is ***ing long."), and is followed by the punkabilly-western "Know Your Rights". The true highlight of the album, though, is "Should I Stay or Should I Go". The song never lets up pace, with Joe and Mick thrashing out the chords, the whole band is on the song full force, though when it gets louder, you can barely hear Mick and Joe singing. "Straight to Hell" ends the album on a quieter note, though it is a very good song. It opens with Topper pounding on the bass drum and so on, and the band comes in eventually. It is one of my favorite songs by the Clash, and when presented live, sounds much, much better. A fantastic ending.
To summarize, Live: From Here to Eternity
is an excellent live album, with a (mostly) good song selection, in which the songs sound much better presented live. Joe's voice is sometimes weak, and doesn't rise above the music, and there could have been a few songs from Give 'Em Enough Rope
. The production is one of the best aspects of the album. The songs sound as if they are part of the same concert, shimmering in all the glorious reverb, drums pounding away and the bass thumping. It doesn't exactly present the Clash in their full prime, but it is a good example of how well they could present some of their songs in a live format, especially in stadiums and large venues, without losing the edge and excitement.