Review of Joe Strummer ‘Global A Go-Go’ and ‘Streetcore’ Re-Mastered
In 1977 I felt cool at 15 standing in a bus shelter, hair greased back, with leather jacket collar popped up smoking cheap cigarettes with my friends and trying my hardest to look like my idol Joe Strummer. Others at the time were trying to look like the other punk icon of the time Sid Vicious – but I wanted to be the guy who could play and write music. Joe was the co-founder, lyricist, rhythm guitarist and lead singer of the English punk rock band The Clash.
Strummer died suddenly on 22 December 2002 in his home at Broomfield in Somerset, the victim of an undiagnosed congenital heart defect.
2012 would have been the year Joe turned 60, and to celebrate the extraordinary life and career of the musician, Hellcat Records are releasing re-mastered special editions of Strummer‘s finest solo work on CD and Vinyl. ‘Global A Go-Go’ and ‘Streetcore’ were recorded between 2000 and Strummer’s untimely death in 2002, it was during this period that Strummer wrote, recorded and toured with the band he dubbed “The Mescaleros.” These records capture the one time Clash front man amidst an undeniable creative resurgence. In a review of ‘Streetcore’, The Guardian called the record Strummer‘s “best work since the Clash‘s London Calling.”
Even though The Clash disbanded in 1985, Strummer only began working and recording with a band of his own again in the few years before his death. ‘The Mescaleros’, who were previously a studio session band, became a fully-fledged group on ‘Global A Go-Go’ and continued to develop further in ‘Streetcore’. This album was the last release, completed after Strummer‘s death. This final album was widely celebrated as a great piece of work, leaving all wondering what could have been next for ‘Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros‘ if not for Joe‘s premature death. 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.
Musician Frank Turner said of Joe, “The most inspirational thing about Joe is that he managed to create a direct connection between his heart and his mouth, without anything getting in the way”. 10 years on from the loss of one of the great British music icons, the re-release of these two albums celebrates the life of Joe Strummer and his incredible musical talent.
There are already a lot of reviews on these albums but the re-mastered versions provide a new and fresh look at two great albums. ‘Streetcore’ was one of the best albums of 2003 and provided just the sort of punky reggae party Joe was born to throw. Whilst I wouldn’t go quite as far as the acclaim from The Guardian this is a fine album by any standard and pretty much a must-buy for anyone who liked Joe’s music. When you listen to the album you also appreciate why for a few moments in time Joe played with The Pogues (in 1991, he replaced Shane MacGowan as singer of The Pogues for a tour after MacGowan‘s departure from the band). Also being a great fan of The Ramones I also really like the live version of ‘Blitzkreig Bop’.
Even though re-mastered you can’t help still feel the raw unfinished feel to most tracks and to be honest they sound the better for it. ‘Global A Go-Go’ has a number of songs that hearken back to Joe’s pre The Clash folk music busking days. Strummer, accompanied by his old busking friend from the ’70s Tymon Dogg on fiddle, along some of Britain’s finest musicians do not limit themselves into one genre for the second Mescaleros Album. When you pick it up expect a Rock ‘n’ Rollin’- Alternative-Urban-Folk experience. Toe tappers such as “Johnny Appleseed” work in perfectly with alt-rock and traditional numbers, and the range of instruments utilised by the band, do add an edge to the overall well-rounded sound. This album whilst a little less known is more rounded with a less thrown together feel than ‘Streetcore’.
For anyone who appreciated Joe and the legacy of his music these re-mastered albums are great for your collection and are released on the 25th September.
Album Track Listings –
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – Global A Go-Go (CD and Double Vinyl)
1. Johnny Appleseed – 4:04
2. Cool ‘N’ Out – 4:22
3. Global A GO-GO – 5:55
4. Bhindi Bhagee – 5:47
5. Gamma Ray – 6:58
6. Mega Bottle Ride – 3:33
7. Shaktar Donetsk – 5:57
8. Mondo Bongo – 6:15
9. Bummed Out City – 5:33
10. At The Border, Guy – 7:09
11. Minstrel Boy – 17:49
12. Bindee Bhagee (Live from the Acton concert)- 6:12 (CD Only)
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – Streetcore (CD and Vinyl)
1. Coma Girl – 3:50
2. Get Down Moses – 5:05
3. Long Shadow – 3:34
4. Arms Aloft – 3:47
5. Ramshackle Day Parade – 4:03
6. Redemption Song – 3:28
7. All In A Day – 4:56
8. Burnin’ Streets – 4:32
9. Midnight Jam – 5:50
10. Silver And Gold – 2:39
11. The Harder They Come (live) (B-side to Coma Girl) – 3:26 (CD Only)
12. Rudi, A Message To You (live) (B-side to Coma Girl) – 5:04 (CD Only)
13. Blitzkreig Bop (live) (B-side of Coma Girl) – 3:25 (CD Only)
14. Yalla Yalla (live) (B-side to Coma Girl) – 6:56 (CD Only)
15. Armagideon Time (B-side to Redemption Song) – 4:30 (CD Only)
16. Pressure Drop (B-side to Redemption Song) – 4:30 (CD Only)
17. Junco Partner (from Hellcat Give Em The Boot IV compilation)
Review by Doug Duffin