Let’s Rock Again! (Image Entertainment)

If somehow you didn’t know who Strummer was, you’d think this was just a documentary of an ordinary Joe trying to make it in the music business—and, in a way, that’s exactly what the film’s about.

 


When Dick Rude began filming for his Joe Strummer documentary in 2001, there’s no way he could’ve known how important the footage would be. With Strummer’s death coming just 18 months later, it was some of the last documentation of a punk icon.

Let’s Rock Again! opens with a montage of the Clash in the late 1970s, then jumps forward 25 years to follow Strummer on tour with his new band, the Mescaleros. Through intimate interviews, backstage footage, and stunning live performances, Rude paints a candid portrait of a Strummer few knew in life. More than a passionate performer or a defiant punk, he was principled, witty, adept at storytelling, and genuinely concerned for his band and his fans. And he was modest almost to a fault. Of his status as a lyricist and musician, he said he was somewhere “on the level of crossword puzzle writers.”

Modest or not, it still hurts on the inside to see footage of the man, after an 11-year break from the music business, go unrecognized on the Atlantic City boardwalk as he handed out hand-drawn concert flyers, or trying to talk his way into a radio station to plug his new album.

But when the Mescaleros hit the stage in any of the film’s outstanding live clips, Strummer plays with so much intensity, it’s hard to believe he ever took a break at all.

If somehow you didn’t know who Strummer was, you’d think this was just a documentary of an ordinary Joe trying to make it in the music business—and, in a way, that’s exactly what the film’s about. With a treasure chest of special features, including additional live performances and Strummer’s musings on music, politics, and life in general, Rude’s film digs deep to uncover the man behind the legend. It’s as fitting a tribute as anyone could ask.

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