Saturday, November 22, 2003

Joe Strummer – Streetcore (Hellcat, 2003)

Joe Strummer didn’t mount much of a solo career during the years between the breakup of The Clash and his tragic passing in 2002. A couple of solo records and some acting and producing duties and that was about it. So this posthumous CD comes as something of a shock, all the more surprising and saddening is how good it is. If Strummer had this music in him all along, where was it? Or was he starting to come into his own as a solo artist right when he was cut down by illness, just as he was ready to take his rightful place as one of the elder statesmen of rock & roll?

There’s a fascinating mix of songs on this record. It takes a great deal of moxie to cover Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” and while it doesn’t quite come off as straight reggae, Strummer certainly gets points for trying. What works well for the record is when disparate music is blended together, whether it’s the rock and dub of “Midnight Jam” or the gospel/reggae of “Get Down Moses.” Strummer mixes and matches music like a mad scientist, and in staying away from the tried and true makes a fascinating record that will cement a lasting legacy.

Rating: 8

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