“Safe European Home” tells the now-famous story of Joe Strummer and Mick Jones’s disappointing trip to Jamaica. Thematically, it echoes one of their best singles, “White Main In Hammersmith Palais,” a stream-of-consciousness Strummer rant set off by a dopey reggae showcase in London: “On stage they ain’t got no roots rock rebel.” Taken together, these two songs set up ideas about cultural imperialism and idolization that the Clash would explore, lyrically and musically, on London Calling, Sandinista!, and Combat Rock.
And since “Safe European Home” ends with the words “Rudie come from Jamaica, ’cause Rudie can’t fail,” I include the stone-cold classic from London Calling.
These also happen to be three of my favorite Clash songs.
If you think Tom Waits has been conspicuously absent from this space, it’s only because our reverence for his work needs no garish display. So I offer only this track from his Orphans comp to indicate what I love about him.
Tom Waits – “Fannin Street” from Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards (2006)
Henry Thomas – “Fishing Blues” (1928) from The Anthology of American Folk Music (1952)
I know that I posted this before, but last night I was awoken at 3:30 am by a neighbor blasting this song at full volume. Infuriating, but at least the guy’s got good taste. Please enjoy at any time that won’t piss your neighbors off.
The band Live (ryhmes with jive) represents several firsts for me. This album, Throwing Copper, was the first album I ever acquired on CD. This song, “Selling the Drama,” was the first song of theirs that I heard on the radio, and subsequently made me a fan. Also, Live was the first band I saw in concert without parental supervision, on the Secret Samadhi tour, back when I was in eighth grade.
I still listen to Throwing Copper and Secret Samadhi every few months, and every now and then one of their songs will pop into my head for no apparent reason. According to my last.fm page, I’ve listened to 51 tracks by the band over the past 12 months. Not bad for a band who I have not purchased a new album by in twelve years. I didn’t even know, for example, that they released an album in 2006 called Songs from Black Mountain, or a live album (that’s right, a live Live album) in November of last year.
I’ve always liked singer Ed Kowalczyk’s voice, and the thought-provoking lyrical content on Throwing Copper and Secret Samadhi (I can’t speak for their newer albums). Plus, Live is one of the few bands that I listened to then that I still come back to today, which adds a nice bit of nostalgia for me. This must be what it feels like for my mom to listen to the Beatles today.
I’ve been on a steady diet of Creedence for the last three weeks or so. This happens to me now and again, where I can’t be satisfied by but one band/artist. And the 1969/70 CCR catalog is a good one to sustain a body.
Their second album, Bayou Country, came out in January 1969, Green River dropped the following August, followed by Willy and the Poor Boys in November 1969. This run culminated in Cosmo’s Factory in July 1970. That works out to about one album every four months. And they’re all terrific (despite a few weak moments). I can think of no band, British or American, that had such a prodigious and respectable output in such a short period of time.
Dare I name Creedence the greatest American band of all time, keeping in mind that the Band was mostly Canadian (though I’m not sure if even that technicality could save them)? The only real competition would be the Byrds or CSN(Y) but those groups suffered creatively from personnel problems, not to mention drug abuse and egomania. Also, someone could make a case for the Dead but it won’t be me.
I understand and agree with most of the criticism of Pink Foyd’s The Wall as a bloated, self-indulgent concept album. Consequently, while it played almost constantly on my car stereo during my junior year of high school, I now can barely listen to it. But I also know that many of you will agree that it stands alone among rock operas in its darkness and, often, its songwriting. The Wall certainly doesn’t get a fair shake on your classic rock radio station where they only play “tasty tracks” like “Young Lust,” “Run Like Hell,” and the now very boring “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2).”
But if you strip out most of the songs with electric guitar, you’re left with some very good, very affecting tunes that seem even better when you try to forget that they were ever even on this album. I mean songs like “Nobody Home,” one of my favorites.