Hits Back

The Clash

Epic / Legacy, 2013


REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Joe Strummer may be long gone, but The Clash lives on, or more appropriately put, rages on. That said, a lot of Clash music has just been released. There is a five studio album set on vinyl and CD, a massive 12-disc box set, which gathers together all of the band’s studio work, three discs of demos, all non-album singles and B-sides, rarities, and a DVD of videos, and the two-disc Hits Back, which is also available on colored vinyl. It is a virtual cornucopia love feast for any hardcore fan of the band.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

If you would like an introduction or taste of their music, then Hits Back is the place to start. It features 32 of the band’s most well known tracks. The track list is sequenced according to their legendary Brixton Fairdeal show from 1982. While this sequencing may appeal to Clash aficionados, for the uninitiated, it will not matter. In fact, while the track list may work on stage, in this format it makes you feel disconnected, as the songs tend to jump to different periods of their career.

What we are left with is the individual tracks that stand on their own, but they do that well. The music of The Clash may be a bit dated, as it was a reaction to the disco era and instrumental excess of the time, but it also remains some of the most passionate and powerful of its era. These 32 tracks are a fitting tribute to that legacy.

The Clash caught the first wave of the punk movement, but they had the ability to move their sound more toward the mainstream while retaining punk’s energy and anti-establishment elements. “Should I Stay Or Should I Go,” “Rock The Casbah,” and “Train In Vain” all became hits in the United States. Those cuts were just the tip of the iceberg, however, as “Police On My Back,” “Bankrobber,” “Somebody Got Murdered,” “Ghetto Defendant,” and “Armagideon Time” were quick shots of anger directed at the world around them. It was rock music that opened up new avenues outside the accepted norms and changed the course of rock music.

The sound has been remastered and there is a short but informative booklet that contains a history of the band. Hits Back may not have the consistency of the Clash’s studio albums, but is a fine introduction to their music. And remember to play it loud.

Rating: B+

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© 2013 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic / Legacy, and is used for informational purposes only.