The 101'ers

Elgin Avenue Breakdown

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The 101'ers never released a proper album while they were together, only turning out one single, a terrific pub rocker called "Keys to Your Heart." They probably would have remained a pub rock footnote for much longer if it hadn't been for lead singer Joe Strummer, whose massive success with the Clash led to an independent release (spearheaded by Strummer and the 101'ers drummer Snake Hips Dudanski) of Elgin Avenue Breakdown in 1981. It's not really correct to call this an album proper, since it contains the remnants of three demo sessions, including one recorded at the BBC, and a live audience tape, all shuffled and spit out seemingly at random. So, it's an utterly chaotic mess, with wildly varying sound quality, but that's part of its charm, since this is, after all, a collection of artifacts from a band that never got a chance to make an album, so you take whatever you can find. And, yes, this is good enough to hear even if you're not a Clash maniac, but you probably have to be a rock & roll fiend to really dig this (and, let's face it, most rockers worship the Clash). This is firmly within the tradition of such high-energy, ballsy pub groups as Ducks Deluxe, Eddie & the Hot Rods, and Dr. Feelgood, which means there's a lot of Stones-n-R&B-fueled rockers, spiked with a liberal amount of covers -- Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business," Bo Diddley's "Don't Let Go," Them's "Gloria," the New Orleans standard "Junco Partner" (later revived by the Clash), and Slim Harpo's "Shake Your Hips," as told via the Stones' "Exile." These covers are tremendously spirited, even wild, and the originals follow suit, particularly the standouts "Letsagetabitarockin" and "Keys to Your Heart" (included in an alternate version from the single). Make no mistake, this is a record only for die-hard collectors and rockers, but for that group, it's worth the search. [Elgin Avenue Breakdown has never received wide release, and has been intermittently been available on vinyl and CD of questionable legality.]

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