Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Live at Shea Stadium

The world's greatest punk band, at the time of "Rock the Casbah," rocking a ballpark

The show memorialized here was mounted as the Clash were falling apart, with drummer Topper Headon fired and kingpins Joe Strummer and Mick Jones on the outs. At the kind of mega-venue they'd sworn never to play, they were supporting the Who, one of the dinosaurs they'd come to slay in 1977. Only four of the 14 songs were from the pure punk period that preceded 1980's London Calling, and thus the album is less sharp than 1999's mix-and-match From Here to Eternity: Live. Yet despite it all, Live at Shea Stadium is a pleasure. The sonic and theatrical muscle it takes to project to 50,000 people who've paid to see another band adds a sense of purpose that can't transfigure the superb material but does give the music its own embattled character. "Hard rock," you could call this Clash. You could say they rocked harder than the Who, too.

Blender, Nov. 2008