Film Review: Joe Strummer - Cut The Clash
Cut The Clash
Entertain Me Productions LTD
As with most musicians’ stories, there’s a humble beginning, a middle that usually includes some missteps, and a redemption that puts a period on an illustrious career. Joe Strummer’s story isn’t really any different.
Joe Strummer: Cut The Clash is “a celebration of Joe’s life and his music” that tells his story through the eyes of those who lived it with him: including members of The Clash Mick Jones and Topper Headon, the group’s road manager Johnny Green, his bandmates in The Mescaleros Tymon Dogg and Pablo Cook, and some of his closest, dearest friends.
We’re weaved through the early years of Joe’s life fairly quickly, from his dropping out of art school, to living in the squats of London’s Notting Hill, busking on the streets with his friend Tymon Dogg, and his first proper band the 101ers finding substantial success amongst the local scene.
Anyone who knows The Clash should certainly already know most of what this film touches on with their history, but it’s what’s said about Joe in the in-between that gives us our best glimpse into who he was as an artist, songwriter, and a man.
On his songwriting: “Not only had he written these lyrics, but he gave you this feeling that he somehow felt them as if he lived them.”
On his performing: “It was something like one would have seen watching Eddie Cochrane, if you could imagine that.”
On being one with the fans: “He was happy when the fans jumped on stage and sang along. He’d help fans sneak in without paying, put them on a guestlist, and even put them up on people’s floors or in hotels. You felt part of them. You became a friend even though they’ve never met you.”
On his patience: “Especially when he was on tour, he was always curious what people did, how they lived their lives, and wanted to hear about it from them.”
As the story begins to roll toward its end, we delve into everything that Strummer internally had to deal with -“sellout” tags placed on The Clash when they signed with CBS Records and released Give Em Enough Rope, his firing of both Topper and Mick from the band causing it’s inevitable implosion, watching Mick’s success with Big Audio Dynamite in the aftermath, and losing both his parents within’ a year of each other.
But there’s always redemption in these stories: For Strummer it came through forming The Mescaleros, and eventually reconciling with Mick Jones when he attended one of their shows in 2002 to support Joe, and jumped on stage sporadically, and just like with riding a bicycle, played “Bankrobber,” “White Riot,” and “London’s Burning” alongside of him for the first time in over a decade.
There’s so many books and films about The Clash that there isn’t much more to be said about their history at this point, but where Joe Strummer: Cut The Clash shines most, is in its sole focus being on Joe Strummer, who’s story does include The Clash, but isn’t all there is to it!