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Let Fury Have the Hour: Joe Strummer, Punk, and the Movement that Shook the World Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Joe Strummer was the greatest, and even die-hard fans like me would warm to most books that have been written about him and The Clash, but this wasn't one of them!
MUCH better stuff out there!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book is organized into four loose sections proceeded by a very brief piece by Chuck D about The Clash's influence on Public Enemy, along with an introduction by editor D'Ambrosio. The first (and longest) section covers Strummer's career as leadman for The Clash. These are all pieces that originally appeared elsewhere, beginning with D'Ambrosio's lengthy overview which ran in the Monthly Review in 2003 and is available on their web site. There's the 1976 interview from Sniffin' Glue, gushing pieces from Trouser Press (1978), Rolling Stone (1979), Sounds (1979), a 50-page excerpt from Lester Bangs' seminal book Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, and a much-revised piece by Greil Marcus that has appeared in a number of places. These reprints are all fine, and as a collective, give a reasonable sense of the power and importance of The Clash for those not already in the know.
The second and third sections are divided rather arbitrarily, and are a hodgepodge of essays and interviews mostly about Strummer's post-Clash career. The first of these is a pretty decent overview of his work in film from D'Ambrosio, who interviewed Alex Cox, Jim Jarmusch, and Dick Rude for the piece. This is followed by a nice short 1988 piece from Sounds focusing on Strummer's soundtrack work, especially Walker. The next essay, titled "The Politics of Punk's Permanent Revolution," attempts to posit that the Clash "helped precipitate a permanent revolution." It reads like something from an academic journal, and invokes philosophers from Hegel to Kant to Kouvalakis with a little Marx thrown in. There are a few promising ideas, but it's hard to take the author seriously when he writes that the album London Calling is "a perfectly awful mish mash of musical styles." Freelance writer Amy Phillips contributes an interesting article about the influence of The Clash on women, and D'Ambrosio adds one about The Clash and antiracism.
Section three starts with a rather boring essay by D'Ambrosio which attempts to reframe Strummer as a political folk artist in the vein of Victor Jara or Silvio Rodriquez. It's probably more interesting if you know those artists, but is to be commended for highlighting some of Strummer's more obscure influences. Two good personal interviews from Punk Planet (2000) and Arthur (2003) follow, a brief profile from Metropolis (2001), and a brief piece from Arthur about Strummer's relationship with Jamaican music. None of these are anything breathtaking, but worth checking out if you missed them the first time around. The final piece about the importance and legacy of The Clash isn't particularly strong, and can be read at poppolitics.com.
The final section is dedicated to essays attempting to give hope for the future. In the first D'Ambrosio profiles musician/activist Michael Franti and actor/activist Tim Robbins as two socially-conscious artists in the tradition of Joe Strummer. Alas, if those are the best we have to offer, the future looks bleak. This is followed by tributes from fellow musicians like Not4Prophet, Billy Bragg, and the singer for Radio 4. This latter group I'd not heard of and will definitely be checking out. These last voices, along with D'Ambrosio coda detailing a late collaboration between Strummer and Johnny Cash, act as a welcome call to action, a reminder that as bad as things look, one should never lose hope and stop striving to change the world around you. That,
Unfortunately, Mr D'Ambrosio dually blows his cred as both a writer and an editor before he even finishes what serves as his introduction. "London Calling was recorded in New York City" (p. 11)? No, I don't think so, but close...it was recorded in London. Hence the title, geddit? But it's a spattering of mis-information, disguised as matter-of-fact statements, such as "In an ironic twist, on December 22 he would perform (with Mick Jones) for the last time ever at a benefit for striking firemen in London" which ultimately made me dismiss the book without a whole lot of further reading and fling it across the room. December 22 was, as fact-fans worldwide will note, actually the sad day of Mr Strummer's passing, which would clearly rule out any chances of playing a gig (with or without Mick Jones), let alone making it up to the microphone.
Picking the nit? Maybe, but not when there are absolutely fantastic books out there at the moment which do quite an honourable bit of justice to Joe Strummer's memory and legacy. My recommendation, then, would be to bypass this book altogether and make a dash with cash for Pat Gilbert's "Passion is a Fashion: the Real Story of The Clash" or Kris Needs' "Joe Strummer & The Legend of The Clash."
Mr D'Ambrosio's book, unfortunately, smacks of a careless cash-in with little regard for factual accuracy or careful editing. To state that "some people are missing the point reading it like a biography...that is so dumb and pathetic" -- as the remarkably forgiving and splendidly lenient C.C. Ho of Minneapolis has so eloquently stated above -- is no excuse for such an over-abundence of mis-information and fallacies to be presented as facts.
If some guys have all the luck, then clearly none of them are spending money on this particular book.
I was repeatedly struck by the stories of Strummer's generosity, empathy, and gracious attention. In both his music and his interactions he proved himself a profoundly committed humanist who recognized the need for class struggle and the fight against racism, imperialism and music industry commodification. A radical consciousness imbued his music, and his melding of multicultural genres with punk and pop became a political statement for justice and equality.
Joe Strummer's wish for himself was to be seen as simply "a good soul." He sought, through his music, to break and remake the world a better place. Strummer told D'Ambrosio when they met in April 2002 that the goal all along was to keep things hopeful and remain optimistic. "We must be positive and know that truth is on our side," said Strummer. "Music can turn people on to the beauty of a life still to be lived...we choose to not take any more and not be miserable." Let Fury Have The Hour is a fitting tribute to Strummer in that the book itself carries on that message of idealism and faith.
This volume is artfully structured in four parts that tell the story of Strummer's musical and political legacy, as each essay delves progressively deeper into the major stages of Strummer's life and career--from his early days with the Clash through his final work on Streetcore and his end-of-life meeting with quintessential rock outlaw Johnny Cash. It opens with a broad essay by D'Ambrosio, intended for an audience unfamiliar with the Clash; followed by six exciting essays originally published in the 70s and 80s that offer up-close glimpses of the Clash unleashing its fury. The most thrilling is Lester Bangs' recapture of a performance where a whole lot of kids "supped on lightning" and Strummer "connects with the nerves of the audience like summer thunderbolts...a man trapped and screaming and...it's the cage of life itself and all the anguish to break through which...is rock `n' roll's burning marrow."
The second section explores the period after the breakup of the Clash when Strummer experimented with film-acting and stayed true to his vision of building up a community of rebels. The third section places Strummer in the canon of great political folk musicians. In the last section, "The World is Worth Fighting For", a set of fresh, gorgeous essays by Anthony Roman, Not4Prophet, Billy Bragg, and D'Ambrosio himself demonstrates why Joe Strummer, still making socially conscious music to his last breath, was a hero whose pioneering life and work will continue to manifest itself for generations to come.
The book is perfect for Strummer/Clash fans as they will l learn something new through D'Ambrosio's unique approach to various subjects--Strummer, punk, the Clash, political activism etc. And essays will enjoy the essays from the likes of Billy Bragg and Chuck D, two pieces that deeply moved me. "Let Fury Have the Hour" is excellent for young people, who will learn the importance of fusing creativity with a sense of social justice. It will be inspirational for artists, activists and everyone in between as the book is comes at a important time. As D'Ambrosio writes in the introduction, "echoing a favorite expression of Strummer-the future is indeed unwritten, how we write it offers us all a grand hope and a compelling opportunity."