Even though the shows towards May/Summer of '83 and the US Festival performance may have lost a little bit of bite, I don't think I've ever heard a bad concert by the band. And how could you tell?...well there's no mistaking that the band is on fire here at The Passaic Theatre. The disc starts with the Joe Strummer taunting..."sounds like Saturday night in New Jersey!"...and the lid is literally ripped off the joint. It's The Clash in their peak.
While this is a stereo soundboard source, there is not much depth and quite two-dimensional. The lead vocals are prominent with drums offsetting them nicely but unfortunately the guitars are latent and the backing vocals are present, but off mike. One of those tapes where you feel somewhat cheated because it's all there, including the tape recorders!...and how can someone not be paying attention at the board? Let's face it, this isn't Pink Floyd and The Clash don't need multi-track mixing for us to enjoy the ferocity and sneer. But again, as I've stated previously on these Clash recordings, it's Topper Headon anchoring the whole damn thing while the front three slash away throughout. The drumming is really fantastic, and the same could be said for the rhythm section in general here. They had all the genres mastered and that was the beauty, especially the wonderful reggae beat.
The recording starts off pretty lifeless even though the proceedings are frenetic. It isn't until "London Calling" that we get past what might be just lead tape wear and the sound gets a bit fuller. By "Train In Vain" it's as good as it'll get. It is at this point the show really hits stride with the trilogy of "Koka Kola", "I Fought The Law" and "Spanish Bombs" being truly magnificent. Probably the most disappointing thing for me in listening to the show wasn't that the soundboard didn't live up to expectations - I had absolutely no problems enjoying this - it's that the true climax of the show is when they tear into "Clampdown" and about a third of the way in, the damn tape is cut and we don't get the rest! While it takes a little bit of patience to hit the stride again after that, it is rewarding as the closing tunes are really great.
Goodfellas Productions is part of The Godfather Records family of labels so the triple foldout digipack is of high quality glossy color art. Although I'm not thrilled by the use of photo sessions outtakes for this particular release as it begs for stage shots of the band live displaying a bit of energy and drama - not laid back and cool. Certainly a minor quibble as the whole presentation screams commercial quality production. Very nice, and a very good recording. Glad to have it at our disposal.