Joe Strummer DVD review [Dick Rude Productions]



Film / Video Reviews
Joe Strummer DVD review [Dick Rude Productions]
By
Dec 13, 2006, 14:35

JOE STRUMMER Let's Rock Again DVD directed by Dick Rude; Dick Rude Productions, 2005

Let's get this out of the way first: This is NOT a documentary about Strummer's early days in the 101ers and, uh, The Clash. (You've seen “Westway to the World,” right?) Shortly after a “1977” backed montage—the only Clash footage in the film—we're in 2002 and Strummer claims:

It's great to live in the moment. [And] not think too much about the past. It'll really drag you down…the past is like treacle. It will get stuck on your feet…you can't get in and out that easy. And Dylan said, ‘don't look back.'”

That's an honorable and difficult path to choose these days. Can you imagine how much he would've gotten for a Clash “reunion tour?”

So it's 2002 and Strummer is on what will, sadly, be his last tour with The Mescaleros. (Disclaimer: Although I was aware of The Mescaleros, I have never listened to them. This was more or less an introduction to them for me. What did I think? I could do without the cheesy electric violin player. And the more he stays away from Graceland-era Paul Simon-style faux African, the better. That said, when the tunes are Latin or reggae influenced, it sounds to be pretty great stuff. I'm sorry I missed seeing them.)

This is not your typical band/tour documentary, though. This is all about Joe and only Joe. The band and even the tour, don't play much into this film—other than some nice live footage. And while the live footage is great (with the exception of that violin player), it's the interviews with and footage of Strummer off-stage that really resonate here. 

Take the autograph session, for instance.  The first thing noticed is that these appear to be the most generous autographs ever—little drawings, doodles, and personalized comments. He also spends a surprising amount of time with each fan. When discussing a three-hour (!) signing after a show in Toronto, he says, “Everyone's got a story to tell. You can't hurry them along, can you? You can't just turn and say ‘NEXT!'” Is he for real? Yet he seems so sincere that you believe him. (I do, anyway.)

It's heartbreaking and fascinating to see him show up unannounced at a radio station outside Atlantic City in order to plug a show (he has to explain who he is to the clueless DJ), When the DJ lets him in, Strummer is incredibly gracious.

The same day sees Strummer on the Atlantic City boardwalk passing out fliers to anyone who will stop.  Most don't recognize him. Which begs the question, why are the Mescaleros playing a show in Atlantic City? (Isn't that sort of like Englebert Humperdink playing a show at the Bowery?) While that question remains unanswered, it's uplifting to see how un-jaded, positive,  enthusiastic, and just plain glad to be alive Strummer always seems to be. Which, unintentionally, makes this documentary a total downer. That said it's an enjoyable film and well worth watching for anyone interested in Joe Strummer's post-Clash life.

–Adam Miller


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