Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros

Global A Go-Go (Hellcat)

Record Reviews

Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros

Global A Go-Go (Hellcat)

Third time's the election for ex-Clash generalissimo Joe Strummer, and just in time too. Mick Jones, big rock star ego and strutting beatbox, was beginning to look like the group's only arms dealer back in the punk rock revolution of 1977. Nearly two decades after their final Clash collaboration, '82's Combat Rock, rockabilly Joe pulls a David Byrne and employs his heretofore-MIA frontman panache to assert his musical imperialism on Caribbean culture. Shaking off the dead-end trail of 1999's Rock Art and the X-Ray Style, and the empty-pool Clash echo of his solo debut Earthquake Weather 10 years prior to that, Global A Go-Go shimmy bops with just the right mix of American roots, Jamaican skank, and Southern African rrrhythms. Opening shot "Johnny Appleseed" swaggers on a Western skiffle beat, while "Cool 'N' Out" busts a hard churning rasta beat often left slack on previous efforts. The undulating bassline of the title track is almost (Paul) Simononian before it bursts into its Mexican standoff bajo sexto break (cock an ear for The Who's Roger Daltry), whereas "Bhindi Bhagee" pogos up and down on just a few of the album's many exotic locales: Macedonia, Hong Kong, India, Britain, Serengeti, New Zealand, the fourth dimension, and Omaha. Executed by the multi-instrumentalist mercenaries in the Mescaleros, and led by secret weapon/fiddler Tymon Dogg, Global A Go-Go simmers in the same sort of Asian dub broth spreading across the Clash's Sandinista and Combat Rock. GAGG runs low on gas toward the LP's end, but the drone of 17-minute Celtic instrumental epic "Minstrel Boy" marches out on a perfect note. The Hyena howls again.

***

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