Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Elgin Avenue Breakdown & Walker

gang of four thompson twins

Astralwerks is responsible for a couple of fab Joe Strummer reissues this summer. First up is 1975's Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited by his pre-Clash band The 101'ers. A gritty pub rock band that to these ears sounds like punk rock, this set is packed with extras - 9 songs are previously unreleased. Half of the record is crusty live stuff, but the energy is there, and you can feel the buildup to what the Clash were all about. Letsgetabitrockin' has the loud 'n' fast thing down. It's some classic rockabilly styled stuff, tight and stripped down. Junco Partner (Live) is a cover tune that reappears later on Sandinista - obviously another great pointer towards what was to come. This album bristles with energy, and it's really cool to hear Joe on the verge of stardom. A fantastic piece of music history. It's interesting to note that several of the band members also went on to various degrees of success in bands like PIL, the Raincoats and The Passions.

The other reissue is the soundtrack to the 1987 Alex Cox flick Walker. It's a Western that, by all accounts, sucks, as many Alex Cox movies did. Sure, Sid & Nancy and Repo Man are classics, but the rest? Schwag. But I digress. The soundtrack to Walker can best be described thusly - Ennio Morricone, baby. It's mostly instrumental with lots of Spaghetti western flavor, beautifully orchestrated and played. Tennessee Rain is one of two songs with words on the record, and it was very exciting for me to hear Joe's voice on something I had never heard before. The tune is a gently rambling country and western tune with fiddles and banjo. A lovely little record. While neither of them could be described as classic, if you're a fan of Joe & The Clash you will probably find much to enjoy.


matt said...

Hey thanks Michael for this great post ! i have pretty much all of the Clash's output, along w/ that of the Mescaleros, but I've never actually heard any 101'ers stuff. Can't wait to hear the junco pardner version (which prob closer to Dr. John than Lee Perry -- although i love the dub ver. on Sandinista, hell all the clash dub stuff from Sandinista & Black Market Clash is awesome imho). but i digress. Strummer's soundtrack was the only good thing about Walker. I remember how excited i was to see the film and how bummed we were that it basically stunk up the theater (although it did have its moments). thanks again for the post.

angryrobot said...

Boy, I rememeber when all Astralwerks was releasing were these:

Anonymous said...

Oh, so wrong about Walker! It's very, very, very strange, but I think it's one of the best "political" movies ever. I love Ed Harris' unhinged performance; I love how the visuals get more stagy as Walker's mind disintegrates; I love the anachronisms towards the end (reminded me of the similar the-movie-is-losing-its-mind effect in Herzog's Aguirre); and yeah, I do love that faux-Morricone score. And for real Strummer fans, check out his marvelous Eastwood-parody performance, along with Grace Jones and The Pougues, in Cox's equally unhinged Straight to Hell.

frankenslade said...

What a pleasure to have found your blog and the respondents to this post. I LOVE the 101ers album (I've owned the vinyl version for years, and just last week I ordered the CD reissue), and I've always figured I was one of 4 people in the world who dug the movie Straight to Hell. The single version of "Keys to Your Heart" b/w "5-Star Rock 'n Roll Petrol" is the ultimate in 101ers output.