Stealing All Transmissions: A Review in Big Takeover

Stealing All Transmissions: A Secret History of The Clash

Big Takeover #75
December 2014

Originally published in 2012, Stealing has been reissued and now includes a foreword from long-time Clash roadie Barry “The Baker” Auguste. Although The Clash are one of the most chronicled of punk bands, Doane’s history stands apart, because it dwells on how the band found America – and equally, how the music business, media and ardent fans discovered them – and forged a new landscape of popular culture. With interviews of radio personalities, Epic Records’ marketing execs, fans, and writers of the day, this look at “the only band that matters” is a welcome expansion of the book’s original text, and gives us more detail starting with the Clash’s arrival in 1979 to America. Arresting and vital – much like the band on which it reports.

Doane’s (Oberlin Coll.) book is more a workmanlike rock-and-roll history, though still not the usual bio/tell-all—only a Clash book would require over 15 pages of endnotes. Thoughtful and enthusiastic, if laudatory, this work examines the Clash through the lens of 1977–83 punk rock and romanticizes the disenfranchised, alternative, DIY work ethic of the movement’s leaders. When focusing on the band specifically, Doane is much less concerned with sex and drugs than politics and the battles fought with the record companies. It also features an intellectual foreword by Barry “The Baker” Augustine, the band’s principal roadie.

VERDICT Both of these titles are fine purchases for large public libraries and deep music collections; for an intriguing take on punk history, try John Robb’s Punk Rock: An Oral History (2006), or, for Clash-specific history, consider Marcus Gray’s Last Gang in Town: The Story and Myth of the Clash (1995).

Back to Randal Doane’s Author Page