The Clash

The Clash may have scavenged the past for inspiration — calypso, beat poets, film idols, rockabilly, the Spanish civil war — but never for the sake of nostalgia. And whereas boxed sets sometimes embalm history, this one suggests the spirit of discovery that Joe Strummer might have felt pouring through record shops in a West Indian section of London. An obsessive replica of the Clash’s inventory of 19 British singles, right down to faux-vinyl CDs with the original sleeves, The Singles might seem like a greatest-hits package decked out in pointless regalia, but it boasts 46 extra tracks (including foreign B-sides, interviews and other curiosities) and 44 pages of written tributes from the likes of Shane MacGowan, Mike D., author Irvine Welsh and soccer star Stuart Pearce. This lavish instant record collection and coffee-table book amounts to an argument in defense of “physical media,” that 20th-century inconvenience the disposable MP3 has arrived to liberate us from. As you dig through its crannies and reconsider some of the most restless, soulful rock and roll ever recorded, no one will blame you for indulging a little nostalgia.

Categories: Music