Joe Strummer – Assembly

  • Mark Cartwright posted
  • Reviews

Joe Strummer

March 26th 2021 - Dark Horse Records

To release what is essentially a best of, some 19 years after the passing of Joe Strummer will not be without its critics, but I personally have yet to see any real arguments, other than the odd question on, why not this song or why not that song?

But that is always going to be the biggest talking point when realising a collection of songs from what is a wealth of back catalogue that not only is full of the obvious Clash songs, but has so many twists and turns in style that was Joe Strummer through and through.  A life after The Clash that was always dogged with the pressure to deliver, a pressure that I’m sure Joe never wanted nor deserved.  If you are a fan or even if you sat on the fence with his solo career, what I’m fairly sure of, is there will always be a song, an album, or a live performance for everyone, that happened within Joe’s career that will deliver a smile a knowing nod or even a feeling of love for this eclectic era of his life.

Assembly attempts to bring you all the high points of a time in his life that took the front man of a legendary band that covered so much ground in essentially a very short time, starting out as the quintessential punk band, moving on to the more political side that Joe gravitate toward, then giving us a sound that was fully embracing anything from Rock n Roll to Jazz and Blues, oh and the odd hip hop nod too.  So within this album you get a feel for everything that made a man like Joe grab for anything that pleased him, no stone unturned in the musical world that we live in, ‘Coma Girl’ sets off the album a classic Rock n Roll sing along festival favourite, swiftly followed by ‘Johnny Appleseed’ with Joe’s lifelong mantra of fighting for the down trodden working poor, highlighted here perfectly,  “If your after getting the honey/then don’t go killing the bees”.

Moving through this album give you the feeling of filling a time capsule of Joe’s career, to not have some Clash snippets would be very amiss if not a crime, so ‘I Fought The Law’ and ‘Rudie Can’t Fail’ live from Brixton, bring the uninitiated a taste of what they have missed out on.  

As with his way, Joe was never one to shy away from anything that made his ears prick up and set him off on a musical path, so this album as it should, brings everything from the slow melancholy of a song like ‘Sleepwalk’, a ballad that has a Spanish undercurrent rolling through something that shows Joe’s philosophical side so well, a side that would be pushed to the fore more and more as he aged, some looked to him for those moments of thought that they believed might change the world, but for him it felt my like a personal goal rather than an international agenda.

Reggae was also always a big influence that ran along side pretty much everything the Clash did, so it was almost a given that the solo years were going to bring songs like the iconic ‘Get Down Moses’ and of course the truly personal ‘Redemption Song’, a song that split some, but who can not feel moved when hearing Joe singing a song that pretty much says all that he believed in. 

What you do take from this album as a whole, is just how desperate Joe was to breath in everything in music and life, put it into a performance and then let it speak to whom ever it wanted to, his music was a reflection of him, a man of people a man of a ‘Long Shadow’, he cast a very long shadow, one that still to this day empowers and enriches lives, which is really all he ever wanted.

An open door into Joe Strummer, for those who may not have grown up in his time, this album allows them to get a foot in the door and hopefully keep walking through.

Released on March 26th via Dark Horse Records

Kick the door open HERE

To Get involved with the legacy that he left behind, try HERE