Explaining the difference between The Sex Pistols and The Clash, Don Letts put it this way: "The Sex Pistols made you want to smash your head against the wall. The Clash gave you reason to."
Meaning, of course, that The Clash, with the righteous, socio-political nature of its lyrics, made you think, and what they made you think about ... well, it was enough to cause such outrage as to make you not consider the health risks of banging said head against said wall.
Letts, an iconic filmmaker, DJ and one-time founder of Big Audio Dynamite with The Clash's Mick Jones, should know. He's been friends with members of the band since 1975, and in 2000, he directed — in my opinion, anyway — one of the best rock documentaries ever in "Westway To The World," which told the story of The Clash through recent interviews with the band and assorted friends and rare footage of the "only band that mattered."
I talked with Letts today about his new Clash DVD "Revolution Rock," which presents a variety of live footage of the band tearing through many of its classics. Letts, who noted that it was the DIY spirit of punk rock and The Clash that made him want to be a filmmaker, says the new DVD works as a companion piece to "Westway To The World."
"I think it's the perfect accompaniment," says Letts. "The only thing that bugged me about 'Westway' was that there wasn't enough music, and that was only because of budget and time restraints."
"Revolution Rock," due out April 15 on Epic/Legacy, sets out to right that wrong. For more of my interview with Letts, watch www.goldminemag.com for an upcoming podcast and watch our Dead Air schedule for a broadcast of the interview on Goldmine Radio.