Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros: Streetcore

Damn, what can I say? When “Streetcore” was released it was an intense day, I mean of course I wanted to hear the album, but also didn’t want to accept the fact that this was it. No more Strummer studio albums. “Steetcore” was the final project from one of my BIGGEST musical influences of all time , people like Joe don’t come around everyday, if ever again.

“Streetcore” contains 10 tracks, 7 of them written by Strummer himself, “All In A Day” was co-written with Danny Sabre, there’s also a Bob Marley cover, “Redemption Song”, and a Bobby Charles tune “Silver & Gold”. It’s a good thing the Mescaleros and the Strummer family decided to release it, because it’s solid material. Makes me wonder if there will be more unreleased recordings in the future. I’m sure there will be, buti’m sure they won’t have the same impact.

The first track “Coma Girl” has first single written all over it. It’s classic Strummer, mixing together different styles of music into his own. Simply put, this track makes you smile, because you realize you’re listening to the last album from an amazing musican.

“Get Down Moses” is the most roots-rock-reggae track on the album. This is the type of stuff Joe/Mescalero fans had come to expect from album to album, lyrically, and musically.

The folk flavored song, “Long Shadow” was originally written for Johnny Cash to cover on his “When The Man Comes Around” album. Johnny decided not to use it. It’s a stripped down ballad using an acoustic guitar and vocals. I wonder how many other songs like this may be laying around on various studio tapes across the world. Lyrics like “Somewhere in my soul, there’s always rock and roll” explain exactly where Joe was coming from. One of two tracks produced by Rick Rubin.

“Arms Aloft” like “Coma Girl” is another uptempo track worthy of a second, or thrid single. “We were arms aloft in Aberdeen!” I’m guessing this song is an example of the direction the band was heading toward before that shitty day back in December 2002 when Joe left us.

In the track “Ramshackle Day Parade” the lyric “Every dog must have his day.” could almost be used as Joe’s lifelong dedication to all the underdogs of the world. About a third of the way through this song, I started to get upset,thinking, “Damn! Why couldn’t They (whomever “They” are) have taken Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, or some other worthless wanker instead of Joe!” That’s when I started thinking about how the good ones are always the first to go, and how this is another goddamned example.

Another stripped down number is Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” the second track produced by Rubin. Okay, i’ll admit, I pretty much shed a tear on this one, and i’m sure plenty of you did as well.

Speaking of “Redemption Song,” and Johnny Cash, here’s a little twist of fate: According to Rick Rubin, on an upcoming Johnny Cash Box Set, there’s a Joe Strummer/Johnny Cash duet of “Redemption Song”. “When we were recording [Cash’s 2002 album] ‘The Man Comes Around,’ Joe was coming every day, because he loved Johnny Cash, and he just happened to be in L.A. on vacation. He actually extended his trip a week longer just to come every day and be around Johnny.” Rubin said.

I don’t know about you, but to have two original artists such as Strummer, & Cash, coming together from two very different musical directions in the twilight of thier lives, to duet on a song written & recorded by a third original artist (Marley) who recorded it shortly before he passed away is almost too much to handle, way too much.

The seventh track, “All In A Day” was co-written by Danny Sabre, and returns to that rockin’ Strummer/Mescaleros sound we all love so damn much. I still can’t get over that “Redemption Song” duet.

“Burnin’ Streets” sounds like Joe is looking back at the early Clash/punk days. Yes, London is burning.

“Midnight Jam” was the last track the Mescaleros recorded before going on Christmas break last year. Strummer’s vocals were taken from Strummer’s old radio shows on BBC. I’m sure all the radio broadcasters out there feel that this track has a little bit extra special meaning.The remaining Mescaleros did a good job putting this one together.

“Silver & Gold” a Bobby Charles number originally called “Before I Grow To Old” back in 1952. It’s a bluesy folk number. The kind of stuff i’d picture Joe doing later on in his career. It’s kind of sad listening to Strummer sing about how he’s “Got to hurry up before he grows too old” but it’s also good motivation to cram as much as we can into our lives, because, none of us know when “They” are gonna take us away!

Thank-you for the music Joe. Rest In Peace.

December 2003

Review by “Barnacle” Brian Gillespie

http://www.strummersite.com/

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