I was never a big fan of The Clash as a teenager, although Rock the Casbah filled me with as much semi-politico rock rebellion as any ten-year-old could muster during the early eighties. The video (known during that period of MTV as the one with the mohawked guys in the desert playing punk guitar to an armadillo) was more of a fascination of the times then a true love affair for me. The Clash had their heyday a few years before my interest in music really took off and, anyway, I was just on the brink of discovering Bowie.
That probably explains why I’m so awestruck at Joe Strummer’s posthumous album,
Streetcore, finished and released by his band mates, the Mescaleros. As someone listening with fresh ears, it kinda knocked me down a bit. This guy, this veteran, this wonderfully soulful rock icon is a beautifully rendered, freshly-bled, black-lined tattoo that’s modern and diggable at first glance. His melodically cool grunting voice is tempered with lyrical musings halfway between Johnny Cash and Bob Marley (indeed, he even does a cover of Marley’s Redemption Song). There’s an undeniable rock’n’roll spirituality going on here and I just haven’t been able to let it go since I downloaded the album from the iTunes Music Store.
I’m somewhat humbled to admit that Joe Strummer’s passing is only now revealing to me its tremendous significance. The guy clearly knew what he was doing and probably saw enough purpose as an artist to succeed in music for many years to come. Sadly, that won’t be happening, but I’ll be going back and checking out some of that earlier stuff with a keener, much deeper interest.