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Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros - Rock Art and the X-Ray Style (Cover Artwork)

Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros

Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros: Rock Art and the X-Ray StyleRock Art and the X-Ray Style (1999)
Hellcat Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: SumWonSumWon
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Joe Strummer's first solo album in a decade, Rock Art and the X-Ray Style abandoned the straight-forward rock-n-roll of his 1989 effort, Earthquake Weather, to seemingly pick up where Combat Rock left off ("Ghetto Defendant," for example, could have been dropped in the middle of this album with no q.
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Joe Strummer's first solo album in a decade, Rock Art and the X-Ray Style abandoned the straight-forward rock-n-roll of his 1989 effort, Earthquake Weather, to seemingly pick up where Combat Rock left off ("Ghetto Defendant," for example, could have been dropped in the middle of this album with no questions asked). Depending on how you felt about Combat Rock, this could be a welcome or a warning.

On Rock Art you will hear reggae, afro-beat, hip-hop, and, of course, a little rock. But gone are the days where the rock outweighs the weird in Joe's catalog (though he came close on his final effort, Streetcore). Lyrically, Joe turns in his most cerebral and downright mysterious lyrics yet. Nine years later, I still have very little idea as to what some of these songs are about. But when I am in the dark, the obscure imagery of his lyrics cut the mustard well enough.

So how do the Mescaleros stack up against Joe's previous groups, the Clash and (no, I'm not making this next one up) the Latino Rockabilly War? The Mescaleros complement Joe's worldly musical vision better than the Clash did, and are certainly more knowledgeable about the subject. Don't get me wrong, "Let's Go Crazy" and "Washington Bullets" are great songs, but they sound like rock songs with marimbas and shit thrown on top. X-Ray Style features songs designed for chanting, melodica, and all that other good stuff that usually doesn't serve as accompaniment to a middle-aged white dude waxing cryptically.

Still, the album doesn't quite have the personality or chemistry that the Clash possessed. Eclectic highlights like "Tony Adams," "X-Ray Style" and the absolutely lovely "Willesden to Cricklewood," combined with more straightforward attempts like "Forbidden City," make this album easily worth its 50-minute run-time, but there is something missing. Rock Art and the X-Ray Style doesn't deliver that X-factor that makes an otherwise good album really great. Nevertheless, this is certainly an album worth buying (or, if you aren't into that sort of thing, illegally downloading) and if you ask me, this is the most consistent of his albums with the Meskies.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Against Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseJoe Strummer and The Mescaleros - StreetcoreJoe Strummer and The Mescaleros - Global A Go-GoAlkaline Trio - GoddamnitJawbreaker - Dear YouJawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge TherapyThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!NOFX - The DeclineRefused - The Shape of Punk to ComeRancid - ... And Out Come The Wolves

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
sumwon (September 9, 2008)

It's cool that people are highlighting different songs as their faves...shows the widespread appeal in Joe's writing.

And GlassPipe, this makes the second Strummer-related review I've beaten you to! Huzzah!

Dont think I'll be submitting a Shea review, but I have tentative plans to gripe in the Comments section.

Scruffy (September 8, 2008)

While I haven't gotten into this album a ton, I do think Streetcore, despite its flaws, is the best thing Strummer (and the rest of the Mescaleroes) ever did.

televisioneyes (September 7, 2008)

great album, my favorite of the 3

mclz (September 6, 2008)

finally someone posted a review of this, but come on, no mention of "techno d-day" its the best song on the cd.

oskorei (September 6, 2008)

The world can never have enough Joe Strummer material. Not my favorite Mescaleros album but i feel Joe had every right to be as proud of this album as he was. plus the African rhythms on the album are pretty sweet

TheMike (September 5, 2008)

Every song is gorgeous. This is definitely the catchiest album he did with the Mescaleros.

JustinUCR (September 5, 2008)

While I agree this album doesn't have the "x factor" of pushing it from a good album to a great album, I think 'Global a Go-Go' is a stronger, more focused album...and my personal favorite with the Mescaleros. Also it deserves mention that 'Yalla Yalla' is one of Strummer's best songs ever.

pricey123 (September 5, 2008)

nitcomb is a nice track. that and forbidden city are my faves off this album

Sliced-T (September 5, 2008)

I've never heard this one. How does it stack up to the other two?

GlassPipeMurder (September 5, 2008)

Dammit, I was gonna review this! I love this album (like all JS & the Mescaleros albums) so much.

mattramone (September 5, 2008)

This album is incredible. Joe Strummer owns all.

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