ROCK JOE STRUMMER AND THE MESCALEROS
Barrowland, Glasgow, Sun 18 Nov.
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition: former street-fighting man, 24-carat legend and all round top geezer Joe Strummer is back in town. Glory and, indeed, hallelujah.
After spending the best part of a decade adrift in the musical wilderness, the last few years have seen a resurgence of interest in both Strummer’s past (a superlative live Clash album and Don Letts’ acclaimed Westway To The World documentary included) resulting in what the man himself refers to as his ‘lndian summer’. This year has witnessed the release of Global A 60-60, Strummer’s second album with his current gang of musical compadres, The Mescaleros. It’s a mish-mash of styles taking in folk, reggae, rockabilly, punk, soul and electronica - much like The Clash once did - and has vague echoes of the sprawling world view of Sandanista.
‘There’s a Celtic inﬂuence there too’, claims Strummer. ‘Our guitarist, Scott Shields, is from Glasgow and my mother’s from Bonnar Bridge, way up in the far north of Scotland, so I’m pretty much a Highland cat.’
Like a pro-boxer who just can’t quit, Strummer’s hurled himself back into the fray and while Global A Go- Go doesn’t quite capture the halcyon days of London Calling, it possesses huge heart and soul and a handful of righteous rabble rousers. Just having Strummer back in the fold makes the world an infinitely better place to live in and he’s certainly lost none of his idealism and openness to experimentation.
‘You’ve gotta stay ahead of the purists’, he sneers, "cos purism’s gonna kill the music. There’s a saying in Chinese martial arts along the lines of “it’s the flexible tree that
ti ‘t 1'
‘You gotta stay ahead of the purists’
hurricane” and I’ve spent most of my life following that through instinct. You’ve gotta be flexible and open to new ideas.’
Above all, Strummer’s a charismatic romantic whose passion burns as brightly as ever. Anyone who caught his last Barrowland gig will testify to the fact that Strummer and The Mescaleros cut a formidable presence live - onstage, he remains the original bequiffed rock ‘n’ roll revolutionary with a mouth like a dental bombsite, trusty Telecaster at his side and his left leg pumping. He still gives it 110%, putting most
(Right Joe. And I’m a Mississippi hellhound . . . )
King Tut's, Glasgow, Tue 27 Nov.
Three scruffy. sullen young men hitting instruments in a squall of speed-fuelled feedback driven by the most basic drumbeat with SCLiffed-up vocals dripping diSillusion all over the place. That‘ll be arch-Jesus And Mary Chain revivalists Black Rebel Motorcycle Club then. who were panned in the last issue of The List by Mogwai frontman Stuart Braithwaite as having ‘no excuse' for s0unding like the Mary Chain. ‘They've never been to East Kilbride'.
‘I imagine the Mary Chain comparisons are going to drive them up the wall. You can hear that they‘ve listened to the Mary Chain, but it's pretty unfair to say it's like a pastiche or whatever.‘ says former Mary Chain singer and now Freeheat head honcho Jim Reid
Reid is taking on BRMC directly With Freeheat. who toured the US in November last year. They released their debut ER recorded on a sixteen-track set-up in Reid's liVing room. almost Simultaneously and are about to embark on their first UK dates.
Freeheat — whose line-up consists of erstwhile Mary Chain guitarist Ben Lurie. ex-Gun Club bassist Romi Mon and Nick Sanderson. sometime JAMCJGun Club drummer and frontman of pub-rock-art-terrorists Earl Brutus — sound not entirely unfamiliar. But this is a good thing and. frankly. it anyone is allowed to whack out a few Mary Chain-esque tunes it's .Jim Reid and nobody's going to argue with that.
He says Freeheat are likely to include some Mary Chain in their set and is casually unperturbed at the prospect of facing critics and a public who at worst may be uninterested or critical of their deCIsion to revisit Mary Chain territory. saying: ‘i'm sure we'll manage to melt their cynical little hearts.‘ (Vicky Davidson)
Happy to be chained to the past
46 THE LIST 15-29 Nov 2001
doesn’t get blown down by the
rockers half his age to shame. Long may he run. (Neil Ferguson)
SNJO PLAYS MINGUS
Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Fri 23 Nov; RSAMD, Glasgow, Sat 24 Nov.
Larger than life: Charles Mingus
The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra have tackled several major jazz composers. including Basie. Goodman and Ellington. but the music of Charles Mingus is their most eXCiting 'repertory' project so far. The bassist and composer was one of the most indiVidual creative forces in the history of jazz. and his music reflects his own volatile. larger than life persona. moving from the most limpid. Ellington-inspired beauty to fearsome. high-energy torrents of sound.
It was long thought that no band could reproduce his music properly without Mingus's own authoritative. galvanising presence. The Mingus Big Band founded in New York by his Widow. Sue Mingus. refuted that theory. and it will be fascuiating to see what Tommy Smith and his troops make of this exhilarating mu3ic. Smith's own introduction to Mingus came when he recorded his lovely ‘Duke Ellington's Sound Of Love' in a quartet version in 1999.
“That tune really opened my ears to his musc. It was my main reason for choosing Mingus. but we've also had a lot of requests for a Mingus programme.
The varied programme includes both the Ellington tribute and his memorial for Lester Young. 'Goodbye Pork Pie Hat'. as well as uptempo thrillers like ‘Haitian Fight Song’ and ‘Gunslinging Bird'.
Smith :s confident in the groups abilities to deel with Mingus' arrangements.'This music wrll push the group to a more creative level as it features more improvisation among the orchestra and more indiViduality in the ensemble playing.‘ (Kenny Mathieson)
FOLK FIDDLE 2001
Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, Fri 23-Sun 25 Nov.
Edinburgh's Assembly Rooms has. since its inception. r880unded to the sound of fiddles. 18th century masters Neil and Nathaniel Gow would be astonished to know that their Strathspeys are still being performed in the same building. but they'd be more astounded by the level of musicianship in a new generation of keen yOung players taking traditional fiddle to new heights.
As Fiddle 2001 prepares to take over the George Street venue for the sixth annual weekend celebration of the instrument and its music. Irish/American virtuoso Liz Carroll talked to The List from her Chicago home. Now regarded as one of the tiddle‘s greatest stylists. she remembered her apprentice years. 'l was always imitating. I'd see someone at a concert playing with the tip of the bow. so I would too. I was always trying something different. copying everything and anything. I'd go for the look. I used to play to my mum and say: “Is this the look?" Or id be 3 Kerry player. play it smooth. put a little hop in it - then midway it w0uld become a Donegal reel. But somehow my own style arrived.‘
Carroll learned Irish dancing as a child. and loves the interplay of fiddle and feet. ‘You can anticipate — play long bowed notes in the travel and faster notes through the intricate spot steps. In fact. sometimes when I’m playing a concert I might feel that I'm being boring - not giving the tune enough lift — and l have this trick that the audience can‘t see. I'm playing to something in my head. I‘m imagining a dancer, that's who I'm playing for.‘
Liz Carroll: The class mimic