Joe Strummer

Joe Strummer 001 (Ignition Records)

Top 10 Box Sets of 2018

Joe Strummer voiced arguably the most beloved of original English punk bands, the Clash. He also counted himself an urban bohemian and electric folkie, a one-man R&B and rockabilly preservation society, not to mention a fervent socialist and devotee of human potential. A journeyman explorer of world music/culture, few exuded more passion than the Englishman born as John Graham Mellor (1952-2002).

Every dimension of this first-wave DIY icon is cataloged across either four LPs or a pair of CDs. Of 32 total tracks, 12 arrive previously unheard. There's little punk here, since demos for Cut the Crap-era highlights "This Is England" (here, titled "Czechoslovak Song/Where Is England" in a reggae-ish early take) and "Pouring Rain" barely qualify as the Clash to most surviving die-hards. There's also an unreleased 1986 track co-written by Clash songwriting partner Mick Jones: "U.S. North."

Otherwise, sample and/or revisit the blitzkrieg roots rock of his first band, the 101'ers; the world music fusion of his final band, the Mescaleros; the Johnny Cash duet of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," one of Strummer's final recordings; and some of the blues and country pastiches pseudonymously written for Alex Cox's Sid and Nancy soundtrack. Most interesting is the unreleased track "London Is Burning," a Mescaleros attempt at chronicling a UK – through pronounced Clashness – that eerily resembles 2018 America.

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Joe Strummer, Gift Guide 2018

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