London Calling

Columbus Alive | June 16, 2005
Having ignited the U.K. punk explosion of the late ’70s (along with the Sex Pistols), the Clash is without a doubt one of the most important rock bands ever. While much of the band’s biography was splendidly covered in Marcus Gray’s Last Gang in Town (originally published in 1996 but updated last year), former Mojo editor Pat Gilbert’s Passion Is a Fashion: The Real Story of the Clash (Da Capo) does an equal job while taking a different tack.

As he explains in the book’s introduction, “Gray’s book provided the first road-map of the Clash’s early lives and an excellent overview of their career, but it didn’t change a basic fact: nothing I had read ever really began to explain the peculiar and unique relationships between Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon.”

With such a premise set forth, Gilbert’s book aims to uncover a more personal side to the band. Rich with language that’s particularly British (the “fag end” of a street—anyone? Anyone?), Passion Is a Fashion does just that, peeling back much of the band’s public façade and detailing how John Mellor became Joe Strummer, showing Mick Jones’ paradoxical ideologies about the band and interviewing key figures in the Clash story like Don Letts and Mickey Foote. With a map of the Clash’s London pointing out key landmarks in the band’s story, the book is also suited for use in a historical tour more interesting than the typical drive around Parliament and Big Ben.

Columbus Alive

Founded in 1983, Alive is the Capital City's oldest and only independent alternative and is known for providing a forum for the area's free thinkers. The paper's spirited and original perspective on music, arts and culture distinguish it from the...
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