The 10 best songs of Joe Strummer » bbnworldnews.com/

“I have no other message than don’t forget that you are alive” -Joe Strummer

Joe Strummer will forever be remembered as one of the leading voices of the hot punk movement. Not just because he fronted the only band that matters, The Clash, but because he took his ethics out of the stage and into everything he did.

That said, his musical influence extends well beyond the confines of a single genre, group or movement. For many, Strummer embodied the mythical spirit of punk we’ve all tried to ignite within us from time to time, but Joe, as he was adorably known to thousands of friends he met at Glastonbury’s stone circle, the did with grace, poise, humanity and, above all, a sense of self that few could bother with.

As soon as he and The Clash turned punk into a global force to be reckoned with, Strummer had found himself constantly in and out of fashion. It would unfortunately take his tragic and unexpected death in 2002 for the true weight of his legendary status to land. Strummer, above all, represented truth, passion and justice. It’s an intoxicating mix that should be toasted as a celebratory cocktail for today as we remember the iconic Joe Strummer through his everlasting music.

Of course, Strummer is not without weaknesses. The singer-songwriter became lost after The Clash broke up in 1986 and spent many years wandering the musical landscape in search of a new home. Finally, in the late ’90s, Strummer was back in the groove, and when he and his band, the Mescelaroes, finally hit their stride, he sadly lost his life in 2002.

Below, in celebration of the great man, we bring you ten of our favorite Strummer songs, with and without The Clash. It’s a perfect set of examples of why he’s still so beloved.

Joe Strummer’s Top 10 Songs:

10. “Trash City”

Perhaps a sign of Strummer’s terrible luck, some of his finest work (often referred to as “the last great Clash song”) was buried on the soundtrack of a simply terrible movie starring Keanu Reeves. It was so bad that Reeves even erased it from his memory, but we’re still very happy to have the song.

On the soundtrack, however, we are given a taste of Strummer’s great and wonderful songwriting talent. With a distinct rockabilly flavor, the lyrics are naturally crisp and sharp, it shows the skills Strummer has possessed throughout his career – able to cut through the bullshit, even if it was with some silliness.

9. “Clash City Rockers”

Prior to The Clash, Strummer was the frontman of the 101’ers, a pub rock band that welcomed The Who’s long hair and smooth rock as influences. But after punk started to explode and Strummer caught a glimpse of the Sex Pistols, everything changed.

It saw The Clash rework this song from Strummer’s days in the 101’ers and allow the singer to add his soon-to-be-iconic growl of Cockney mishmash and nomadic overtones to invented punk rock beauty. Seriously, can you ever hear someone sing, “I wanna move town to shock town rockers, you need a little hop off electric shockers” like Joe did?

8. “Rudie Can’t Fail”

One song that showed off Strummer’s love affair with reggae is this punk-dub joy, “Rudie Can’t Fail.” Present on the band’s seminal record London callingthe song was a tribute to Caribbean culture according to renowned filmmaker Don Letts.

It was a song dreamed up after a long, hot summer of smoking weed and enjoying the reggae clubs that were springing up across London. The song not only uses its lyrics to pay homage to “drinking brew for breakfast” and “chicken skin suit”, but also the horns and groove of the track are unmistakably influenced by reggae and ska. It’s a joy to see.

7. “Janie Jones”

The first song on your debut album should always be a banger. Luckily, The Clash had this five-star firestarter in their arsenal. Not only does it come with a gripping intro capable of foot-tapping like Gene Kelly, it’s also peppered with the rock ‘n’ roll attitude that would define the band.

Written as a eulogy to a forgotten ’60s icon who had been jailed for a misdemeanor in 1973, the song even received a response as Madam Jones penned her own song “Letter To Joe.” It’s easy to see how she was so in love with the song, she has the ability to move your body without even trying.

6. “Redemption Song”

Strummer and country icon Johnny Cash shared a pretty stunning cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” for the country star’s covers album before Strummer took charge. Unfortunately, Strummer won’t see the album released, with street core shared in 2003 after his death.

Strummer’s spoken style and straightforward accompaniment make this one of the most poignant moments in his entire arsenal. It’s about as close to a perfect Strummer song as you can imagine; Steeped in justice and the people’s need for power, Strummer begs his audience to pay attention and connect with each other.

5. ‘(The White Man at) Hammersmith Palais’

As we approach the top of this list, it’s easy to manipulate the top tracks into your own preferred positioning, but we must stress that “(White Man in) Hammersmith Palais” sits at least near the top. It’s one of the best moments The Clash has ever recorded.

He sees a rock chorus meet a reggae verse head-on, and lyrically he sees Strummer address the state of the nation after a paltry gig at a reggae club in Hammersmith Palais. In song, he touches on everything from the music industry to racism and the rise of nationalism.

Listening today, it still sounds powerful, powerful and useful.

4. “Bank robber”

If there’s one song that reeks of the class that The Clash possessed, then it has to be ‘Bankrobber’. Released in 1980, the song was all but forgotten as a 45 promotional import only. It sees the band once again inviting the world of reggae and dub into the punk sphere for a healthy dose of storytelling.

Sure, Strummer’s dad wasn’t a bank robber, he was a diplomat, but that doesn’t mean this song is any less charged or electrified. Produced by Mikey Dread, the song is a stark reminder of Strummer’s many influences and the avenues he would open up to artists around the world.

3. ‘Johnny Appleseed’

As Strummer and the Mescaleros delivered their second part of a promised trilogy in Global One Go-Go, there was a slight sigh of disappointment as their desire to experiment with sound meant that sometimes songs were forgotten, but when they got it right, they really knocked it out of the park. On “Johnny Appleseed,” they sent one flying into the stratosphere.

A modern folk classic, ‘Johnny Appleseed was actually written by violinist Tymon Dogg, whom Strummer had worked with prior to The Clash. That doesn’t take away from Strummer’s performance as he kicks off the lyrics aimed at preserving the good things in life.

To sum it all up, he sings: “If you’re looking for honey, then you’re not going to kill all the bees.

2. “White Riot”

The Clash’s debut single “White Riot” may have a habit of hitting the wrong ear in 2020. With all the racial tension surrounding us and Strummer employing a distinctly ’70s-leaning lyric set, it It’s easy to see why Mick Jones has distanced himself from the track in recent years.

While the song struggled after being misappropriated by white nationalist groups who tried to take the song’s lyrics for their own use rather than seeing them as a call to arms for all underdogs, it is a misunderstood punk masterclass. The song was written after Strummer, and Paul Simonon was caught up in the Notting Hill riots in 1976 and saw the singer strum his Telecaster harder and faster than he has since.

It’s a powerful punk track, despite the now-implied racial overtones, and acts like a flurry of fists to the face, reminding you who The Clash was.

1. “London Calling”

The track is an apocalyptic anthem in which Strummer details the many ways the world could end, which in the current climate seems more relevant than ever. This is arguably The Clash’s definitive song, it encapsulates everything great about their ethos summed up in three and a half minutes as they stuck two fingers at the establishment with their remarkable degree of intelligence.

Singer Strummer was unabashedly a news junkie, channeling the world around him into his music. This gave him the inspiration for the track which was written during the Cold War era and it is this impending sense of doom that is filtered through ‘London Calling’.

‘London Calling’ would see the band gain notoriety in the United States, with the self-titled album being universally praised by critics around the world despite its Britain-centric direction. Released around the time Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister of Britain, with their surly intellectualism, The Clash quickly became the voice of disillusioned youth on both sides of the Atlantic.

The title track of the disc perfectly captures the voice of the largely ignored majority at this time. As Joe Strummer aimed his gun at the neoliberalism he saw as ruining society, he unleashed a voice that has gone down in the annals of rock and roll history as one of the most passionate of all time.

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Source: faroutmagazine.co.uk


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