JOE STRUMMER & the MESCALEROS ” Joe Strummer 002: The Mescaleros Years “

Posted: October 23, 2022 in MUSIC

If the first volume of post-Clash Strummer solo work that was “001″ was a cluttered bummer, “002”—with his radical Latin-inspired rock ensemble The Mescaleros—was still cluttered and crowded, but a hummer filled with soul, poetry, funk, sloganeering, punk, folk, Conjunto, and miraculously original ideas all told through the lens of Joe’s cigarette-and-bourbon stained/strained vocals. And while having Strummer die at all is sorrowful, that he passed away while working on yet another Mescaleros record feels downright cruel. 2022 marks 20 years since the passing of the legendary Joe Strummer. While best known as the frontman for The Clash, between 1999-2002 Strummer produced some of his most exciting work alongside The Mescaleros.

Strummer’s solo career, too, has often gotten lost in the haze of various indie labels—a mixed-bag, ethno-musicality that existed from the time following the final Clash album (1985’s genuinely awful “Cut the Crap”) to his passing in 2002. From 1999 on, his second great band, The Mescaleros guitarist Antony Genn, bassist Scott Shields, percussionist Pablo Cook, and other assorted Brit instrumentalists—became Strummer’s primary means of interpreting his often free-associative, occasionally hyper-Guthrie-like lyricism with their own drunky brand of Pogues-meets-Bad-Seeds intensity and theatricality.

Joe Strummer 002: The Mescaleros Years” is the first comprehensive collection highlighting this intense period of creativity and brings together the albums “Rock Art and the X-Ray Style” (1999), “Global A Go-Go” (2001), the posthumous “Streetcore” (2003), and “Vibes Compass“, a brand-new compilation of 15 B-sides and rarities, including never before heard tracks like ‘Ocean of Dreams’ (featuring Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols on guitar) and early demos of some of the Mescaleros best-loved tracks (“The Road To Rock ‘N’ Roll,” “X-Ray Style” and more), through to some of the original recordings from Joe’s last ever sessions (“Coma Girl (Outtake),” “Fantastic” and “Get Down Moses (Outtake)”), all in one complete boxset.

By the time of that third Mescaleros album, Strummer and company had finally settled into a unique groove roughed up by Strummer’s punk-folkish roots. While “Rock Art” finds the still-new team making worldly rhythmic rock below Strummer’s dense refrigerator-magnet poetry (“Global” is similar, if not for some acoustic folk thrown into its West Indian/Latin percussion-driven mix), “Streetcore” is where they caught fire. Driven more directly by rocksteady Jamaican rhythms than they were on their first two albums, and with The Clash’s old friend Tymon Dogg as part of the ensemble, the group head loudly into a mix of fired-up garage-punk with deep reggae accents. 

All albums are remastered by Grammy Award winner Paul Hicks (The Beatles / The Rolling Stones / John Lennon / David Bowie) and are packaged in a richly curated boxset, featuring extensive new liner notes and interviews with Joe’s friends, collaborators and The Mescaleros band members, plus never-before-seen handwritten notes, lyrics, and drawings by Joe taken from the Joe Strummer Archive.

Both the 4CD and 7LP boxes include four reproduction lyric sheets and chord charts, and the LP box includes an exclusive 12”x12” art print. Joe Strummer 002 serves as a loving tribute to Strummer’s final musical output, released in celebration of what would have been his 70th birthday year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.