Tuesday, March 24, 2009

joe strummer "let's rock again" documentary review

last night i was pleasantly surprised to find the joe strummer documentary, "let's rock again," on the sundance channel. the short film (clocking in at just one hour), focused on strummer's last project - his tour with "the mescaleros" - before his untimely death in 2002 at the very young age of 50. "let's rock again" is the perfect coda to the more detailed look at strummer's life and art (including his time with the clash), "joe strummer: the future is unwritten."

the documentary provides only a thumb nail sketch of the his years with the clash. "let's rock again" is primarily a look at strummer's tour, with the mescalaros, of the united states and japan to support the band's second album, "global a go go." it was filmed over an 18 month period during the tour, by his close friend, dick rude.

in addition to excellent concert footage, it's a behind the scenes look at the gritty details of touring and promoting an album. the insights into the mature ("mellower" but no less intense) joe strummer are fascinating. my favorite part of the documentary took place on the atlantic city boardwalk. watching strummer hand letter his own concert flyers (on the boardwalk, with a mailbox as writing stand) and then personally distribute them to the wary passing tourists is simultaneously sad and inspiring!

strummer was one of rock's most celebrated front men and is, here, reduced to restarting his career - one fan, one concert flyer, one radio interview, at a time. the band rehearsals, the backstage goofing around with the band personnel, and the live performances themselves, are serious examples of a man with a renewed mission. strummer never lost sight of what it was about - always the music.

don't go into this film expecting another take on the clash. "let's rock again" is about the rebirth (after a decade in the wilderness) of joe strummer. knowing that his death is minutes around the corner made the film all the more urgent and, in the end, tragic.

it's an inspiring film - don't pass up the opportunity to check it out.

here is the trailer:

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