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Redemption Song: The Definitive Biography of Joe Strummer Paperback – 21 Aug 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (21 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007172125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007172122
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 19,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘Salewicz knew and loved his subject well, and that shows on every page… One of the most rivetingly detailed, revealing music biographies ever written.’ The Sunday Times

'A great read. Brutally frank and full of insights.' Mojo

‘A riveting read that will keep you gripped to the end.’ Daily Mirror

'The Clash front man gets the epic biography he deserves from rock journalist, Chris Salewicz.' Independent

‘Conjures up the excitement of the punk era.’ Sunday Telegraph Seven Magazine

From the Inside Flap

Joe Strummer was the personification of street cool and outlaw
integrity. People loved and were touched by Joe, but why did he stir them
so? The original Clash had split up at the height of their powers, and so
no lengthy Rolling Stones-like decline was ever publicly played out: his
extraordinary stage performances and the wit and wisdom of his lyrics
remained vivid. And there was also always a sadness of sensibility about
Joe, a sense that he was slightly lost in the world in which he found
himself, a feeling with which his audience could empathise. Although
politicised by his life as a squatter, it was his colossal humanity that
struck such a cord in the collective unconscious. He was an ordinary Joe. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By BerkSonics on 10 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
I've not long finished this biography and generally, I'm very impressed.

I find it sad that a few on here have dismissed the book because they feel Salewicz is a hanger-on or a name-dropper. Chris actually knew Joe very well and they were good friends. In that respect, he has every right to recount a few personal encounters with the man within this book. In any repsect, there are very long sections of this book where the author does not mention his own involvement whatsoever, so I really do feel that those reviews are overplaying that aspect completely.

To view objectively, then, you have to take your hat off to the author. To piece together in painstaking fashion someone else's life from such a wide variety of sources is no mean feat.

What we end up with is an extremely candid, thorough and very enjoyable biography. The good and bad of Joe is painted by all those that knew him in here. It is strikingly honest and very warts-and-all. There is also content drawn from a huge collection of print and audio interviews and live shows, both well-known and obscure. Any fan of Joe or the Clash will be engrossed.

If I had to make any criticism at all it would be that perhaps there is too much coverage of very small or insiginifcant occurrences. I did begin to tire of receiving glimpses into Damian Hirst's self-absorbed life. But I'm nit-picking now.

This book is the result of a labour of love and it shows. With unique access to so many players in Joe's life, as well as original interviews with many of these people that readers wouldn't have read before, this stands head and shoulders above so many other biographies you come across these days.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Iain A. Salmon on 30 Dec. 2006
Format: Hardcover
One of the sentiments which appears throughout the book is that Joe changed people's lives but was unaware of just how much. I would count myself as one of those he made an impact on as a 14 year old hero worshipping him and the group, right up to the present day when the music and lyrics, especially the lyrics, mean as much as they always did.

The Clash opened me up to all manner of things through their songs including politics, history, literature and the wider world. Joe would mention Jack Kerouac or Neal Cassidy in an interview or name check Federico Lorca in the lyrics and I'd go and find out more about them.

We need heroes in our lives and the group were mine, Joe in particular but where this books succeeds so well is in humanising Joe Strummer as a real life, flesh and blood man saving him from the myth. Now in some ways that's quite a hard thing to take. Here's me in my 40s and still naive enough to subscribe to the myth almost as wholeheartedly as in the past and then I find out that not only is he full of the contradictions which I was aware of but he fell into the traps of sex and drugs to go with his rock and roll to a degree which almost took my breath away compared to what I thought The Clash subscribed to. Without the benefit of the book I might well have simply accused him of hypocrisy, of failing to live up to what I expected of him but what actually emerges is a man haunted by pain and self doubt, a man who took a world view but could not see the truth in front of him and destroyed the Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World.

How do you come back from that?
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89 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Arctic on 9 Jun. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Joe Strummer's mother - a statement from her family

This book has depicted Anna Mackenzie, Joe's mother, as an alcoholic and a depressive. Those of us who knew her as a sister or an aunt want to challenge this portrayal. She was a quiet, dignified and private person who was also to us unfailingly warm, welcoming, kind and tolerant.

She was the second child of nine, born on a croft and used to hard work from an early age. She became a nurse which in the 1930s was a job even more physically demanding than it is today. We are mystified by the references to her house as "shabby" and "run down". Neither she nor Joe's father Ron was interested in acquiring or flaunting household possessions. Nor did they sit about as if "they had been used to servants": Anna cooked and looked after the house while Ron was in charge of the garden and the DIY repairs and maintenance.

When we visited her in Warlingham or when she was at home in Bonar Bridge, there was no sign of her drinking excessively. She was a social drinker who had one or two gins in an evening - a habit which she probably picked up in India. She recalled with astonishment and disapproval the large amounts of drinking by others that she had observed in the diplomatic communities. At home, she'd usually go to bed early, leaving her nephews and nieces talking with Ron. He wasn't an alcoholic either though he drank more than she did. Nobody in Anna's family that we've spoken to can understand why she's been portrayed in this way. There's no drinking culture among the Mackenzie women.

Like most people, Anna had to cope with deaths in her family. Her older brother Donald died when she had just turned 17 and her older son David killed himself.
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