Joe Strummer 001. Boxed Set of Joe Strummer’s recordings outside the Clash 28/9/18 release
Joe Strummer is an honorary son of Sheffield. Ever since The Clash played their first ever gig at the Black Swan (Mucky Duck) on Spital Hill, opening for the Sex Pistols, we’ve had him down as one of ours. His work with The Clash is no doubt his major legacy, but he had a subsequent career as a solo artist. The Clash lasted ten years so from 1986 he spent much longer away from the Clash than in it, 16 years in fact until his untimely death in 2002. Not long before he died, I saw him play a superb gig at the Leadmill with his band the Mescaleros. I’d never seen the Clash, but seeing him fronting a band, just as dynamic and charismatic as ever, playing new songs and old, made it an unforgettable gig, and one of the best I have ever been to.
After his death it became clear that he obsessively archived his own material, leaving behind over 20 000 items, which have since have been carefully restored and catalogued. He certainly didn’t make things easy, and finding material for this compilation was something of a treasure hunt. There were tracks hidden on tapes which played blank for the first 10 minutes, or an eight track recordings, with a two separate songs recorded on 4 tracks each. There are newly remastered versions of favourite tracks plus songs that have never been released. The songs range from his pre-Clash days to almost the very end with the last song he is thought to have written, ‘London Is Burning’ for a Fire Brigade Union show at Acton Town Hall.
He worked on several film projects, and out-takes, some with Mick Jones, from films like ‘Sid and Nancy’ turn up on here, too. Also included are fascinating collaborations with Johnny Cash and Jimmy Cliff, such was the variety and breadth of his songwriting talent. There’s a song, ‘It’s A Rockin World’ from South Park, and Sheffield steel even gets a mention on ‘This Is England’, a fantastic 1984 demo, and which is one of many highlights.
There are various formats to opt for, CD or the much more trendy vinyl format, and there’s the requisite booklet of background material and newly discovered photos to make even the casual fan feel like it was worth buying. The top flight option, along with stickers and badges, includes the ultra on-trend format, the cassette tape. Fetch that old tape player out of the skip someone.