Among the most genuinely touching examples of the rock’n’roll maxim “the good die young,” Clash guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Joe Strummer, who succumbed to a congenital heart condition in late 2002 at 50, is profiled as an affable, hard-working road warrior in the slice-of-musical-life docu “Let’s Rock Again!” Though brief running time may limit theatrical exposure, item has quality fest berths and tube sales written all over it and, in the illuminating spirit of such recent music-themed docus as “End of the Century” and “Festival Express,” will be a must-add to the DVD shelves of any serious contempo music fan.
First seen with Clash bandmates on the old Tom Snyder television program “The Tomorrow Show” and then in a fast-paced montage of late 1970s performance and backstage clips, Strummer is revisited in 2001 while on the road with his crack band the Mescaleros supporting their second album, “Global a Go-Go,” and in the latter part of 2002 as the tour swept through Japan.
Throughout, axman comes across as focused and genial, spending loads of time genuinely enjoying even the most fawning fans and precisely articulating the cultural and political importance of his career. During one particularly telling sequence, he pushes fliers on unsuspecting boardwalk tourists for an Atlantic City show, then appears unannounced at the locked front door of a local radio station to gently but firmly push the gig (“I used to be in the Clash, so it’s kinda rock music,” he explains into the intercom).
Conceived with music vid director and pal Dick Rude (whose acting credits include “Repo Man,” “Sid and Nancy” and “Straight to Hell,” which he co-wrote and co-stars in with Strummer), pic inserts generous fragments of musical performances into the proceedings, including Strummer’s own propulsive songs as well as a tantalizingly brief and explosive cover of Iggy and the Stooges’ “1969.” Overall impression is one of a pro musician who firmly balanced rock’s excesses with a businesslike yet humane approach to his craft. Rude takes a “filmed and directed by” credit; pic carries a 2003 copyright and is among the few music docus in recent memory to eschew individual song credits in the brief closing crawl.