Joe Strummer 001

Joe Strummer

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Joe Strummer 001 Review

by Mark Deming

Few bands in the history of rock & roll left behind as powerful a legacy as the Clash, and no one in that group symbolized passion and belief like singer, guitarist, and songwriter Joe Strummer. The Clash were a great band, with all members vital to the whole, but it's impossible to imagine them without the blazing intensity of Strummer's full-hearted bray, thoughtful but rabble-rousing lyrics, and relentless rhythm guitar work. While Mick Jones may have been the band's most talented member, it's significant that Strummer could lead a flawed but credible version of the Clash without him (even if the album Cut the Crap captured almost none of the virtues of the group's final lineup). Strummer's work with the Clash casts a long shadow, but the music he made outside of the band is often regarded as a footnote, and that gives a vital part of his body of work short shrift. It's true that Strummer never played in a band better than the Clash, yet his talent and ambitious creative vision was clear regardless of the context, and the 2018 collection Joe Strummer 001 is a testament to his restless muse and the depth of his work as a tunesmith. Joe Strummer 001 includes a few tracks from Strummer's pre-Clash pub rock band the 101'ers (including the engaging "Keys to Your Heart"), but the vast majority of the material dates from after Strummer dissolved the Clash in 1986, and with the notable exception of the harrowing "Love Kills" (recorded for the film Sid & Nancy), for the most part this finds him moving past the into-the-wind punk that was his band's trademark in favor of an eclectic brand of international influences, from the rough Latino boogie of "Trash City" and the raga-flavored folk of "Johnny Appleseed" to the widescreen Americana of "Tennessee Rain," the jazzy sway of "The Cool Impossible," and the percolating rock/hop hybrid "US North" (recorded in tandem with Mick Jones and suggesting what Big Audio Dynamite could have been like with Strummer's fire fusing with Jones' smarts). Joe Strummer 001 also includes an early demo for what would become "This Is England," as well as "Pouring Rain," another track from the Clash's final days that shows what Cut the Crap could have been without Bernie Rhodes' monumentally wrong-headed production. Throughout these songs, Strummer's gift for telling stories and drawing characters shines through, and at his best, he sounds like the rare songwriter who absorbed the influences of beat poetry and molded it into something very much his own. This is hardly the last word on Joe Strummer's music outside the Clash, but Joe Strummer 001 should convince any doubters that the man never stopped being a talent to be reckoned with, regardless of the size of his audience.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Joe Strummer feat: The 101'ers 02:08 SpotifyAmazon
2 Joe Strummer feat: The 101'ers 03:07 SpotifyAmazon
3 Joe Strummer 04:01 SpotifyAmazon
4 Joe Strummer 02:56 SpotifyAmazon
5 Joe Strummer feat: Joe Strummer & The Latino Rockabilly War 04:13 SpotifyAmazon
Joe Strummer 02:42 SpotifyAmazon
7 Joe Strummer 02:18 SpotifyAmazon
8 Joe Strummer 02:46 SpotifyAmazon
9 Joe Strummer feat: Astro-Physicians 02:54 SpotifyAmazon
10 Joe Strummer feat: Radar 04:45 SpotifyAmazon
11 Joe Strummer feat: Electric Dog House 05:30 SpotifyAmazon
12 Joe Strummer 02:27 SpotifyAmazon
13 Joe Strummer feat: Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros 06:55 SpotifyAmazon
14 Joe Strummer feat: Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros 04:33 SpotifyAmazon
15 Joe Strummer feat: Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros 04:04 SpotifyAmazon
16 Joe Strummer feat: Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros 05:39 SpotifyAmazon
17 Joe Strummer feat: Johnny Cash 03:26 SpotifyAmazon
18 Joe Strummer feat: Jimmy Cliff 03:53 SpotifyAmazon
19 Joe Strummer feat: Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros 03:48 SpotifyAmazon
20 Joe Strummer feat: Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros 02:35 SpotifyAmazon
blue highlight denotes track pick