Story of the Clash, Vol. 1

by: The Clash

In some ways, the double-disc, 28-track compilation The Story of the Clash, Vol. 1 does its job quite well -- if the job is indeed presenting a relatively thorough overview for casual fans. The great majority of the band's hits and signature tunes are here, including album tracks and such non-LP singles as "Bankrobber," "Armagideon Time," and "Capital Radio," albeit in nonchronological order. While there may be many worthy tunes missing, nothing here is undeserving of inclusion, and its expansive method of operation works in its favor, since it hints at the richness of the Clash's music. After all, it's no great loss to have such official singles as "Hitsville U.K." missing, since there are some extraordinary album tracks included. Still, the compilation is a little problematic. Not because the music isn't great -- it's so great that the rather bewildering sequencing does nothing to dilute its power -- but because it's hard to tell who needs this compilation, apart from complete neophytes. Granted, in 1988 it marked the first CD release of this music, but since the appearance of The Singles, Super Black Market Clash, and the comprehensive box set Clash on Broadway, no diehard need own it, unless they need the otherwise unavailable edits of such songs as "The Magnificent Seven" that are included here in lieu of the full-length originals. For novices, it's not a bad introduction at all, but it's sort of like a set of training wheels on a bicycle. Still, as training wheels go, it's about the best Clash compilation out there since it draws a fuller picture than The Singles and is more manageable than Clash on Broadway. Of course, jumping in with The Clash or London Calling is just as effective an introduction. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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