Rock the Casbah: The Clash are Back

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Clash may have proven true the rock ‘n’ roll axiom that it is better to burn out than fade away. Now they are attempting to show that no matter how a band exits the stage, it can always come back with a box set.

Punk originals who went on to explore forms of reggae, jazz and rap, the band basically broke up just when they hit their commercial peak with the 1982 album “Combat Rock,” their fifth and final studio album after bursting onto the scene with their eponymous first record in 1977.

The Clash never seemed likely to reunite for a nostalgia tour, a distinctly un-punk prospect that nonetheless died along with the untimely death of frontman Joe Strummer at age 50 in 2002.

So now the British group is reintroducing itself with “Sound System,” a 12-disc set that includes re-mastered studio albums, non-album singles, B-sides and rarities plus a DVD of videos and previously unreleased footage.

The hefty set comes in package resembling a boom box from the period and retails on for $177. Cheaper downloads and a two-disc set, called “The Clash Hits Back,” are also available.

“We hope it does reach new audiences,” said guitarist Mick Jones, who appeared alongside bassist Paul Simonon in a promotional event in New York on Thursday night.

“The dads come to see us, and they bring their sons. They feel like, ‘See, it wasn’t all in vain. It wasn’t all rubbish. There was some good that came out of my time.’ I hope that continues.”

The Clash continued in some form after Jones left 1982 and were done for good by 1986. In their brief tenure, they had an impact on fashion and politics as well as music. But 30 years on, they have yet to become retro trendy.

“If anybody wants to know anything about The Clash, it’s all in that box set,” Simonon said. “Not necessarily just the music but contributions by many people who were involved that give a good description of the time and period of how life was then.”