First Appeared at The Music Box, December 2003, Volume 10, #12
Written by John Metzger
After The Clash called it quits in the mid í80s, Joe Strummer virtually vanished from the music scene, and over the next 13 years he released just one solo album, opting instead to spend his time scoring a handful of films. Before he suffered a heart attack that cut short his life in December 2002, however, he had been staging something of a comeback. With his new ensemble the Mescaleros, Strummer had begun to expand upon the hodge-podge of sounds he explored with The Clash, and while his experiments didnít always succeed, one at least had to appreciate his reinvigorated passion for making music. Streetcore, his third and final album with the group, was partially completed at the time of his death, and it is, perhaps, the most easily accessible of his recent endeavors.
Indeed, the opening tracks Coma Girl and Get Down Moses are Strummerís finest recordings since his days fronting The Clash. The former tune is a perfect pop-punk concoction, the latter a psychedelic blend of reggae and world-beats, and while neither is entirely visionary, the songs do hold their own among the many milestones of Strummerís career. The rest of the album is decent, too, even if it doesnít live up to the promise of its beginnings. Of particular note is the acoustic Long Shadow, originally meant for Johnny Cash, and a cover of Bobby Charlesí Before I Grow too Old, renamed Silver and Gold ó both of which serve as fitting summations of Strummerís own life. Elsewhere, Arms Aloft gives him room to rampage, and All in a Day is an adrenaline-soaked rush that borrows from U2ís Achtung Baby and Zooropa. For certain, there are moments when Streetcore canít help but feel a little scattered and unfocused. Overall, however, thereís nary a dud to be found within its ten enjoyable tracks, making the collection all the more bittersweet.
Streetcore is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box