Monday, August 01, 2005

The 101'ers - Elgin Ave. Breakdown (EMI, 2005)

The 101'ers are legendary for being the first band that rock and roll legend Joe Strummer (The Clash) played in professionally. Squatting in abandoned buildings and on the dole in the wasteland of mid-70's London, Strummer's first band mined the influences of 1950's R&B and greaser rock and roll, but you can also hear the seeds of what would eventually become the sound of The Clash in the slashing guitars and anthemic vocals. This was originally released as an EP back in the day, but this re-issue fleshes things out a little bit by adding some unreleased tracks and alternate takes. In many ways this is a model historical re-issue of an obscure band. The music has been cleaned up (but not too much) and the package contains excellent liner notes and photographs.

As for the music, in many ways it foreshadows the music that Strummer would make in his solo albums after the folding of Clash. The rockabilly influenced "Motor Boys Motor" and a live version of the old R&B favorite "Junko Partner" show the band's reverence for the music of the past, while "Letsagetabitarockin'" kicks off the CD with a blast of high energy rock and roll, and "Rabies (From the Dogs of Love)" shows that the punk rock revolution is just around the corner. Fans of The Clash shouldn't wait to pick up this excellent re-issue, one of the best of the year. Even fans of old school rock and roll may find much to savor.

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