|1. Coma Girl|
|2. Get Down Moses|
|3. The Long Shadow|
|4. Arms Aloft In Aberdeen|
|5. Ramshackle Day Parade|
|6. Redemption Song|
|7. All In A Day|
|8. Burnin’ Streets|
|9. Midnight Jam|
|10. Silver & Gold|
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
This is followed by “Get Down Moses”, another song that was performed live during 2002, and for me one of the highlights of the album. The song is a rock/reggae hybrid that immediately evokes memories of The Clash at their best, and features some excellent lyrical couplets from Joe, which like many of Bob Dylan best songs, are both meaningful and amusing at the same time.
Joe’s first album with The Mescaleros “Rock, Art and the X Ray Style” featured a song that was originally written for Johnny Cash titled “The Road to Rock ‘n’ Roll”, which Johnny never got around to recording, and the sleeve notes tell us that the next track included here “Long Shadow” was also written for Johnny. Whilst the song is basically a tribute to Cash, the influence of his music is much more in evidence on this track, than it was in “The Road to Rock ‘n’ Roll”, and the song is basically a travelogue in the Johnny Cash style, with the final line “Somewhere in my soul there is always rock ‘n’ roll”, now seeming like a fitting epitaph for both performers. This was another highlight for me, and whilst I have no idea whether or not Johnny Cash ever go to hear this song, I sincerely hope that he did.
“Arms Aloft” a rocker with an obvious punk influence that looks back at life on the road, and would obviously have pleased the crowd during live performances is next, and this is followed by “Ramshackle Day Parade”, which is an anthem for the underdog that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on one of the later Clash albums.
An excellent cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” which was recorded and mixed by Rick Rubin follows this. Joe’s love of reggae music is well documented, and he had performed reggae material with his first band The 101 ers and continued to do so throughout his career, so it’s no surprise that this Bob Marley cover is another of the album’s highlights. The song was also considered by Johnny Cash for his excellent series of “American” albums, and the forthcoming Cash box set “Unearthed” which features out takes from the American sessions, includes a version of this song performed as a duet between Johnny and Joe.
The next track “All In A Day” is a rock song that incorporates the dance music influence of break beats, and some witty ‘stream of consciousness’ lyrics from Joe. It’s a fun tune which musically is quite similar to what was achieved by Joe’s former Clash songwriting partner Mick Jones with his post Clash band Big Audio Dynamite.
“Burning Streets” name checks The Clash’s punk anthem “London’s Burning”, and explores similar themes, although the tempo is somewhat slower, and this is followed by “Midnight Jam” which sounds to me as though it was completed after Joe’s passing. This is basically an instrumental jam featuring snippets of dialogue from Joe’s BBC World Service radio shows mixed into the track. This recalls the dub recordings The Clash made with Mikey Dread for the “Sandinista” album in 1980.
The final track, a cover of Bobby Charles’ “Silver and Gold” aka “Before I Grow Too Old” is another highlight. Tymon Dogg’s violin playing coupled with Scott Shield’s harmonica produce a sound reminiscent of the work Joe did with The Pogues back in the early ‘90’s, and the lyrics sound much more poignant following Joe’s premature death.
I’m not entirely sure how much of this album was actually finished when Joe Strummer passed away twelve months ago, and some of the songs included here might possibly have been intended for additional projects, but all in all it’s a fairly coherent collection of songs, and credit must go to Joe’s former band mates The Mescaleros for continuing the production of this album, and giving Joe a final album I’m sure he would have been proud of.
I have no idea whether there are more songs left in the Hell Cat vaults, but if this is the last new music we hear from Joe Strummer, it is a fitting tribute to his musical vision, and the beliefs and principles that his work always embraced.
This is a fantastic album, featuring a blend of styles that few could ever hope to match. From the upbeat "Coma Girl" to the cover of Marleys "Redempton Song" there isn't a weak track on this disc.
Highlights for me are "Long Shadow", "Redempton Song" & the final track "Silver & Gold" - with some tear jerking lyrics.
How about a Joe Strummer Live CD now?
The final words on this album are "thats a take" - & Joe's right. It's over now, it's all done, there is no more. Thanks for everything Joe - a whole generation were given belief by you & thanks for leaving us with this jem.
I can't believe it's the same Joe Stummer who's music has been a part of my life for over twenty years. Read more
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