Joe Strummer - Island Hopping [12-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Joe Strummer

Island Hopping [12-inch] (1989)


While Earthquake Weather didn't quite relaunch Joe Strummer into the public's consciousness after the Clash's dissolution, it certainly gave the faithful something to spin. The 12" etched vinyl version of the "Island Hopping" single packs in three B-sides to keep the devoted going. Granted, two of them are just alternate version of Weather cuts, but they're still pretty darn good.

"Island Hopping" was a great single for the wrong era. It's a chilled out, tropical track with a gentle chorus. It's something that probably could have done really well in the '70s or, given the way acoustic indie acts like Vampire Weekend and Bon Iver have done, now. "Cholo Vest" is a perfect complement to "Island Hopping." It again has a gentle vibe going, although the lyrics are a lot more lacerating. "Nobody really thinks about you when you're gone / No kind memory lingers on" goes the chorus, which pretty much sums up Strummer's artistic self-esteem around this period. It's a hypnotic track. Also, really sad.

The remaining B-sides are primarily instrumental. "Mango Street" cuts most of the vocals out of "Island Hopping," and it works just as well. "Baby O'Boogie" is the odd track out, though. A funkier edit of "Boogie With Your Children," which was just as out of place on Earthquake Weather, it's the closest Strummer's world music sensibility has come to overlapping with that of Red Hot Chili Peppers. It's also the kind of song that's so terribly goofy that you start to grow affection for it over time. Still a weird way to close out the single, though.

All the same, "Island Hopping" is a nifty little tune, and the 12" is highly recommended for Strummer fans, as is Earthquake Weather.