Under The Influence - Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros

"Global A Go-Go" - Hellcat Rekkids

Back once again, it's the incredible, un-killable - Uncle Joe - Old Skool Punk Supremo.

Often described as the "salt of the earth", even once by Mick Jones, Joe is the kind of guy it is very difficult NOT to look up to; a jumbo sized megawatt tower of strength, who often doubles up as a beacon of hope in a dull as dishwater musical climate;

Tonite, Mathew, Joe Strummer is Woody, Desire era Zimmerman & Max Romeo all rolled into one big fat one.

Following on from 99's patchy but honest, "Rock Art & The X-Ray Style", "Global A Go-Go" makes the former sound like a collection of hurried demos. Line up changes to the Mesclaeros have obviously had the desired affect, "Global A Go-Go" is fatter than Chris Moyles' arse pumped full of helium.

Kicking in with the infectious hoe-down, "Jonny Appleseed", Joe questions the eternal quandary of money over integrity with a nice Honey/Bee analogy & some fonky banjos. The gtrs are acoustic, the backing vocals offer the ghost of Mick Jones & Joe's superb delivery does the rest.

"Cool & Out" starts with a sample from 1st lp opener, "Tony Adams". This is a dirty low down fonk workout that's up there with "Magnificent 7" as one of the finest moments he's ever committed to tape;

"The stars go in & the stars go out, but PUNK ROCK's what it's all about."

The lp's title track features a guest appearance from the Who's Roger Daltry. The Clash were always in awe of The Who, even supporting them on their massive US jaunt of the early 80's, so it's full circle time & Rog's primal wail adds to the process with hoary effect. A celebration of the transistor radio & it's effects across the globe, this does the same job as "Sandpaper Blues" attempted to last time out. Three cuts in & the message is loud & clear - I don't need to punk it out anymore - there's no "Techno D Day" nonsense here, no perfunctory "Roads To Rock & Roll" there - this is Joe's road to Damascus & he's walking barefoot these days.

"Bhindi Bhagee" turns the ragga up with flute dressing & a spoken word verse. The first real evidence of the remarkable Tymon Dogg's vibrant violin, the african style gtr arpeggios move the chorus on down the beaten track a treat. Essentially a story of a New Zealander looking to score some mushy peas in a London market, it's a warm welcome to the humble neighbourhoods that make up this multicultural island we call England circa 2001.

Tymon Dogg first worked with Joe on "Sandinista", when his input was a quirky diversion to the other tensions brewing in the Clash camp. With each subsequent track on "Global A Go-Go", Dogg's presence & authority grow in stature - his inclusion is a stroke of genius.

Lesser pundits have described the wonderful "Gamma Ray" as Tom Waits in dub - this sums up why they write for such shite periodicals - that explains the taste by-pass operations you have to undergo before you can work for IPC. "Gamma Ray", is of course, magnificent. Joe rides the violin, hammond & top bassline skank of the backing track like a "Ghost Town" for a new millennium.

"Mega Bottle Ride" is the story of a trip into the 4th dimension loaded with irony & import - all dressed in a loose bar room jam kinda outfit - two shots of red eye, bartender;

"It was pretty hazardous out on the Illminster By-Pass."

"Shaktar Donetsk" handles the problem of immigration with insight & compassion. If you really want to go, you'll get there in the end. The Balkan issue is rarely handled correctly by politicians so it's refreshing to see a humble musician do it so eloquently.

"Mondo Bongo" spreads a relaxed vibe into a harsh environment. Spanish gtr lines flava the mix like paella cooking on a beach front in a giant skiv - Tymon shines once again - my senoritas rose got nipped in the bud, already.

"Bummed Out City" is the closest thing here to the lineage of "Earthquake Weather" - the weakest cut on 1st listen - it does grow markedly with repeated effort, particularly the breakdown & build towards the end. A tale of temporarily broken relationship interfaces & subsequent reconciliation, I guess this is a love song - with Joe you never know.

"At The Border, Guy" rattles in on a piano motif with Joe requesting a line check. Skanking along above a passionate acoustic gtr, this cut is reminiscent of a "Sandinista" out take.

The album closes with "Minstrel Boy", an extraordinary excursion on the vershun - a folktastic lilting fiddle washes a mildly military snare pattern. Joe's haunting refrain is held up out back of the mix like a spectre - I have already playlisted this for the day they bury me. Dismissed elsewhere as crossing the line between professionalism & busking, this is again ample evidence of why;

a) Mainstream critics are so up their own, & everyone else's arse, they cant see the shit for the stools.

b) Why "Global A Go-Go" is the best thing Joe Strummer has recorded since "Straight To Hell".

If you were there at the time, welcome back - it's like you've never been away. If you're new to all this, then now is the right time to join in. "Global A Go-Go" is as big as a planet & it's creator has a heart to match. Uncle Joe Strummer, gentleman punk, it takes a big man to preach without coming over crass in this day & age. Live & learn, Joe has.

Jack Bukowski

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