Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros Streetcore

Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros Streetcore
It’s hard to be objective knowing that this is Strummer’s last recording, but the great irony of Streetcore for any fan still in shock from his sudden death late last year is that from the opening salvo, "Coma Girl,” he sounds unstoppable. While his solo career never quite replicated the magical alchemy of rock, reggae and folk that the Clash did so effortlessly, he was getting closer and closer in recent years with the Mescaleros. Streetcore may have been just another step in that direction, but as it is, this album has to stand as his best solo outing. All the elements of his work remained strong: unwavering love and fascination with American ("Silver & Gold”) and Jamaican culture ("Redemption Song”); a prophetic zeal ("Get Down Moses”); a harsh view of British society ("Burnin’ Streets”); and above all a spirit of fun and freedom ("Arms Aloft,” "All In A Day”). But the album’s most poignant moment is clearly the solo acoustic "Long Shadow,” written for Johnny Cash, but a song that will ultimately be Strummer’s own epitaph: "You cast a long shadow, that’s your testament / But somewhere in my soul, there’s always rock and roll.” For anyone who does care about rock and roll, Strummer’s shadow will surely grow long indeed. And as a final testament, Streetcore is about as good as anyone could want. (Hellcat)