From Here To Eternity
With a charismatic and energetic approach and some terrific songs in their back catalogue, it’s hardly surprising that The Clash had a strong live album; if anything it’s only surprising that it didn’t appear until twenty years after their peak. Rather than a single concert, it’s a compilation of songs from live performances throughout their career; mostly later in their tenure, some featuring Terry Chimes, reinstated after Headon’s sacking for his heroin habit.
Arranged in chronological order, similar to the track list the band would use in concert, it’s effective as a career retrospective, drawing heavily on their strongest albums (The Clash and London Calling) at the expense of their other material. There’s nothing from Give ‘Em Enough Rope (less surprisingly, there’s also nothing from Cut The Crap), and only one song from Sandinista!.
Like you’d expect, it’s very entertaining and enjoyable, even if a lot of the songs, especially those from the debut, don’t sound particularly different. It would have been great to hear The Clash play material from Give ‘Em Enough Rope, without the blemish of that album’s slick production, or some of the dub material from Sandinista! like ‘One More Time’. It would also be interesting to hear the live four piece take on ‘Rock The Casbah’ without a pianist. On this album it’s much more interesting hearing the more ambitious and eclectic material like ‘Straight To Hell’, ‘Armagideon Time’ and ‘The Magnificent Seven’ rather than the straight punk like ‘Career Opportunities’ and ‘What’s My Name’, as energetically as they are delivered here.
That’s just wishful thinking though, and this set does capture The Clash’s charisma; Jones’ emotional reading of ‘Train In Vain’ is probably the most effective performance on the album, while his backing vocals and guitar leads are constantly energising. Strummer’s onstage persona is also endearing, especially his vocal ad libs in ‘Capital Radio’ (“I’d like to hear the song “Wool-ey Bull-ey”), while the rhythm section are ultra tight and professional.
From Here To Eternity is an excellent live document of The Clash, and it’s among the upper echelon of live albums.