Vinyl Vlog 499

Vinyl Vlog 499

Friday, 07 May 2021

Joe Strummer

It’s strange to think how Joe Strummer’s music is essential, considering his output isn’t exactly large. Or maybe it’s just right and easy to grasp, which is what makes it easier to reckon with. As far as the Clash is concerned, that music is just required listening and everyone should be familiar with it. Yes, all of it, including Cut the Crap. The Clash’s music has withstood the test of time and there are numerous compilations to introduce their catalog to listeners. Not so with Joe Strummer and Assembly looks to rectify that.

After leaving the Clash, Joe Strummer became a wildcard, musically. He’s not much of a musician, but more of a front man: a great vocalist and lyricist able to provide rhythm guitar and a healthy dose of energy to a song. It’s good to note that Strummer worked best with a partner and that he basically added to whatever was presented to him. So, his “solo” music was all over the place. As far as scope, Global A-Go-Go probably cast the widest net of what Joe Strummer could do exploring different musical styles. As far as a straight up rock record, Streetcore looked to be that album, but unfortunately had to be put together after his death. This is why collecting the highlights of his solo career is so important and why Assembly is the go-to album if we truly want to understand what Strummer was doing after the Clash.

As someone who is fairly familiar with his post-Clash output, I have to say the track listing of Assembly is pretty spot on. Here we collect some pre-Mescaleros songs (although a few selections off the Walker soundtrack are sorely missed here), some live tracks (which goes to show Strummer would revisit the Clash’s music in his live performances), a couple demos, and the Mescaleros stuff mostly making up most of the rest. Although this collection could use a few more tracks off Global-A-Go-Go (like Minstrel Boy), Assembly has the strongest stuff from each of these albums. Hearing them all in one place is kind of revelatory as a fan and shows just how much magic Joe still had in his song writing. It’s also saddening to think what might have lied ahead that we’ll never get to hear.

Assembly comes in a beautiful gatefold, on double LP, both in red and black vinyl, with printed inserts. I can’t imagine there’s a better way to enjoy this artwork than in in this large format, with slight variations on the same photo of Joe. It’s all pretty cool.

The Clash’s music is essential, but as far as Joe’s solo albums is concerned, I’m not quite sure we can say that. This is what makes this collection such a hallmark. Joe finally has the perfect compilation of his music. Assembly is essential.

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