10 years ago today I was in a study booth at college when the news came through, and spent the whole day reading a message board where the tributes flooded in from Italy, Iran, Indonesia and beyond. Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols might have kicked punk off in the eyes of the world, but The Clash, led by the leg-pumping, snarling emotive Strummer were the beating heart. I felt lucky that The Clash were given to me by my uncle, and while everyone else my age was listening to Nirvana and Pearl Jam I was listening to London Calling on heavy rotation.
Of course, The Clash sound beautiful, but it is Strummer’s lyrics that lifted them above the parapet. I was lucky enough to catch him live twice after his renaissance with The Mescaleros and to see him, down on one knee, singing Bank Robber with his eyes closed is a moment that I can clearly see now if I close my eyes. People who knew him, from our gaffer to Lily Allen, can speak with far more clarity than me on Joe as a bloke. I’d have loved to have met him, shared a spliff and a beer and just listened. I probably listen to The Clash and The Mescaleros five days every week, and I’d urge anyone who only knows The Clash to get involved with The Mescaleros. Here’s 10 songs that my life wouldn’t be the same without. On another day, it could've been 10 different ones so go easy in the comments...
Julie's Been Working In The Drug Squad
The first song of theirs I heard that made me realise they were far more than a traditional punk band
White Man in Hammersmith Palais
No words neccessary.
A heavily political song that sounds like a love song. Best intro ever with some great harmonising by Mick.
Closing song on The Mescaleros first album, Rock Art & The X-Ray Style. "Forgetting all our best Taiquando moves on a barrel of beer..." Ace.
I'm so Bored With The USA
Was originally a Mick song called I'm so bored with you, then Strummer shouted USA at an early practice in Rehearsals Rehearsals and re-wrote the lyrics. This live version from Shea Stadium has Train In Vain on the end.
The Magnificent Seven
Essentially their take on rap, blinding lyrics. Look how fucking cool they all look in this vid.
Death or Glory
I could just include every song on London Calling as its a perfect album, but the lyric "he who fucks Nuns will later join the church" made me laugh when I was 13. The intro showcases everything about how brilliant they were musically, then that guitar kicks in followed by Strummer. Goosebumps.
Strummer's tribute to his beloved Glasto and the first song off the posthumously released Streetcore. Watching this vid makes me cry.
Classic Strummer from 1989's Earthquake Weather. An album that was panned at the time but stands up from where I'm sitting.
Straight To Hell
My favourite song of all time. I know I've missed loads off the brilliant first album but I'm melancholy today.
BONUS TRACK - Know Your Rights
I couldn't leave this off.
Click here for more articles about Music in Sabotage Times
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook