15 Years Ago: Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros Return With ‘Global a Go-Go’
After spending much of the '90s out of the public eye, former Clash leader Joe Strummer put together a new band, the Mescaleros and put out Rock Art and the X-Ray Style. Their second album, Global a Go-Go, was released in July 2001.
The record took their template found on their debut -- a flavorful blend of rock, folk and reggae -- even further, adding more colors and textures to the mix. It kicks in with "Johnny Appleseed," a joyous, acoustic-driven rocker that sets the tone. "Cool 'n' Out" hearkens back to the Clash, but in a 2001 setting. Instead of mimicking his old band, Strummer takes familiar elements and casts them in a new environment. Even with the changes at hand, there is no mistaking his distinct voice, making one wonder if the Clash would have continued on a similar path had they reconvened at some point.
Strummer and his cohorts (and it was definitely a group effort - all songs are credited to the entire band, with all lyrics to Strummer) were able to make a record that sounded modern but avoided sinking into trappings of the era, such as electronica. They always sound comfortable in the clothes they are trying on, and that isn't always easy to do. "I'd say it's very exotic...lush...tropical," Strummer said in a 2001 interview."Very mesmerizing, mystical, but it's for real."
Elements of traditional folk, both American and English, are a significant force on the album, without ever succumbing to cliche. The record received great reviews around the globe. Global a Go-Go is the sound of Strummer ready to take on the world in a second act. That act, sadly, never truly got off the ground as he died suddenly in late 2002 at the age of 50.
Strummer was a unique figure, to say the least, and one whose music has more than stood the test of time. A reappraisal of his solo work is definitely called for.
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