After Joe Strummer passed through this mortal coil last December, his widow instructed Mescaleros Scott Shields and Martin Slattery to proceed with material he had intended to serve as the follow up to their 2001 release, "Global a Go-Go." Given both his undeniable legacy as the co-frontman of the Clash and the momentum he was regaining with his Mescaleros, making fully realized songs out of Strummer sketches would have to be more than a daunting task, emotionally as well as in the eyes of Clash/Strummer faithful.
Hardly a patch-job, "Streetcore" is a lively, profound farewell from one of rock 'n' roll's greats and, at the same time, a sad reminder of what we're going to miss. Save for a cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" (which will no doubt be spooky as a duet with Johnny Cash on the latter's box set), "Streetcore" at its best finds Strummer channeling the spirit of "London Calling" and the finer moments of "Sandanista!" with exciting songs such as "All In a Day" and "Arms Aloft." And when Strummer, Shields and Slattery turn the beat and volume down a notch on "Burnin' Streets" and "Long Shadow," there's nary a hint of remorse. Given the circumstances, that's no small accomplishment. There will always be an air of "WWJD" -- "What Would Joe Do?" -- looming over this collection. But Shields and Slattery certainly offer great possible scenarios here.
BY TIM SHELLBERG