JOE STRUMMER & THE MESCALEROS Streetcore (2003 UK 10-track CD album including the single Coma Girl housed in a digipak picture sleeve with fold-out picture/lyric insert)
It can't have been easy collating Streetcore
after Joe Strummer died. One can only imagine the all-pervading sense of sadness, the ghosts and memories that haunted the control room. Yet the Mescaleros' Scott Shields and Martin Slattery have done a fine job, keeping their own egos at bay, allowing the great man to take centre-stage and reveal that he had rediscovered some form. "Get Down Moses" is a deep, dubby Clash
special, with Strummer testifying to his undying love of youth and the outcast and a big keyboard swirling overhead. "Long Shadow" is a hobo folk song, "Ramshackle Day Parade" crosses Bob Dylan
and the Beatles
and "Arms Aloft" is a pumped-up, slightly psychedelic rocker.
Best, though, are the moments when Strummer goes quiet. Bob Marley's "Redemption Song", recorded with Rick Rubin and given a provocative Irish flavour, ideally suits the man's heartfelt vocals and freedom-fighting reputation. "Silver and Gold", another cover, wherein Strummer considers the positive actions he must take before age overcomes him, is made cruelly poignant by circumstances. Yet this is not a sad album; rather, it's happy proof that musicians can still ride the freight train, not simply the gravy-train, that they can still mean something. It's an important lesson to relearn, and there was never a finer teacher. --Dominic Wills