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  Rock, Art, and the X-Ray Style  
  Joe Strummer and the Mescoleros  
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Sometimes i'm a little slow on the uptake. For example, Joe Strummer, one of my all-time favorite musicians and heros, released a new album LAST YEAR and i only found out about it a few months ago. I have no idea how i failed to notice this, but there it is. So, even though this album has been out for over a year at the time i write this review of it, it is still very new to me.

And it sounds new and fresh and vibrant. Joe refuses to just rest on his laurels, but instead mixes electronica into his general world music / punk rock mix. He is a true God of Punk Rock who is not following the orthodoxy that his descendents in Southern California seem to enforce. Instead, Joe plays around with whatever strikes his fancy.

If punk is all about doing whatever the heck you want, then what Joe wants to do is dance along in a tribal gathering. Well, that and sing. And talk about how pissed off he is that so many people across the world are still being total assholes to one another.

The album is an interesting mixture of techno (lotsa little rave-like sounds in the background) and tribal (chanting, drumming, etc). I see this as a logical progression from what Joe was doing with the Clash -- although back then we called this type of music DUB. It's like Joe realizes that modernity has caused man to become isolated. We have given up much in order to have cars and computers and electricty. And yet -- why? Why did we give up "community"? Why did we give up "celebrating life"? In a sense, the fusion of tribal and techno, of dub and punk, is the quest to re-unite these two aspects of human life!

At least that's what i get out of this. Then again, i have no desire to go to a rave, but if Joe drags the Mescoleros on a tour of the States i am so there. Yeah, community man. I'm down with that.....

Anyway, there are a few standout tracks that i feel need mentioning.

What i gather from reading is that Tony Adams was the single off of this disc. It's a cool little tune with a carribean rhythm and little rave keyboard sworls in the background.

Two songs on the disc, Road to Rock'n'Roll and Willesdeen To Cricklewood feature positively hip hop beats and light guitarwork. This sounds like the realization of what Sugar Ray and those other California surfer/hip-hop fusion bands want to be doing. It sounds really contemporary, so why didn't this get radio play? I will never understand radio corporate culture in America!

Anyway, to sum up let me say this -- Joe Stummer ROCKS! Whoever these people he gathered together to be the Mescoleros are, he did a great job of picking people who are very modern. Heck, Joe is obviously still hipper than a lot of people half his age. He can also still write a mean tune, and he can still twist a phrase to do what he wants it to. Quite simply, i am impressed by this album, and hope that he records with The Mescoleros again. Soon.

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