Joe Strummer

Earthquake Weather

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AllMusic Review by

Earthquake Weather is Joe Strummer's first official solo album after the breakup of the Clash, discounting his soundtrack for Walker. That it's nearly a disappointment, but manages to rise above its flaws, is a testament to Strummer's pedigree and abilities. Strummer sticks to his usual stylistic proclivities, touching on dub reggae, mournful folk, and rock stompers. The album has its share of delightful highlights. The fast-paced, eclectic "Gangsterville" and "King of the Bayou" blend dub and rock jams effortlessly, with Strummer's confident voice echoing over bombastic backing revelry. "Island Hopping" slows things down, its tropical folk charm foreshadowing the mature, optimistic route Strummer would adhere more faithfully to with Global a Go-Go. "Leopardskin Limousines" and album closer "Sleepwalk" both bristle with emotion, thanks to a tasteful Spanish guitar, an interesting choppy rhythm effect, and hushed vocal processing on the former and the latter's subtle, graceful pace. Outside of these highlights, the remaining songs are quite passable and enjoyable, even though there's a sense that Strummer went into Earthquake Weather with an incomplete blueprint. Lonnie Marshall's bass playing frequently recalls Flea's tackier funk excursions, wailing guitar solos appear haphazardly, and, too often, Willie MacNeil's drums are too quiet in the mix to allow for the necessary dynamic punch, and there's a sense that Strummer was just a step or two away from going a cheesy world beat route at times. If these flaws keep the album from greatness, at least Strummer's voice and songwriting are engaging enough throughout the 14 songs that there's never a second where things come off as dated or rushed. Indeed, the flaws reside only in elements that add texture and flare, so they're somewhat easily ignored, especially since the production is so layered and there's so much going on in each song. Earthquake Weather is a solid, fascinating album, mostly because of Joe Strummer's always fiery charisma, his impeccable vocals, and his mostly unerring musical exploration and experimentation. Even when Strummer occasionally goes wrong stylistically, his conviction is too winning and his passion for music too strong to allow him to turn in a subpar performance.

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