The Clash vs The Mescaleros


Benportrait1Before I start, I want to make a quick comment about Lewis’ piece about The Fratellis. I like Brit pop; I think each band does have a different style within the genre. It might just be because I am a fan, but when I listen to Blur, Oasis etc. I can tell which band is which. I suppose yeah they are similar but then they are all the result of the same music movement so you would expect that. Much in the same way that modern pop bands are very much the same.

Anyway to what this is about. While walking up into town to get my hair cut today, (which, incidentally, I failed to do because the queue was too long), I was listening to my music, as you do. While on shuffle, by sheer coincidence a series of songs by The Clash and The Mescaleros were played one after another. If anybody is wondering how these two bands, separated by 23 years, are linked, it is because they share the same front man, Joe Strummer. And that is really the basis for this piece; it is a comparison between the two bands. This is all my opinion.

The Clash was very much a band of the 70’s, providing the decade with one of its many anarchic anthems, London Calling, (if you haven’t heard this song you may as well stop reading now). Their Punk roots resulted in many politically based songs which you really do have to be in the mood to listen to. I am not saying that The Clash aren’t brilliant, they are, but my point is that really I have to be in the mood to listen to them.

Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros on the other hand formed in 1999. During the gap between the break-up of the clash and the formation of The Mescaleros, Strummer appeared to mellow which can been seen in ‘Streetcore’ the final album released by the band in 2003 (following the death of Strummer in 2002).  Streetcore is one of my favourite albums ever and I honestly mean it. It is one of those albums that I can listen to all day. It is an alternative rock album, which means there is more singing/talking to a tune, rather than some shouting with a few instruments playing in the background (Which is the epitome of punk). Again, that isn’t a bad thing; I just have to be in the mood to listen to it. ‘Streetcore’ takes no effort to listen to at all. The album contains some absolute belters including ‘Coma Girl’ and a brilliant cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’, which I think is better than the original reggae version. However controversial that may seem, I really do think that it’s better.

One of the ways I can describe the transformation in Strummer’s style from the Punk Rock ‘London Calling’ to ‘Streetcore’ and ‘Global A Go-Go’, which are for me easy listening albums, is that Strummer had made his point with The Clash, and with The Mescaleros he was just kicking back and enjoying himself while producing some really enjoyable music. I am not saying that The Mescaleros are better than The Clash. They were both very much of their time and brilliant in their own ways.

So I suppose the conclusion I am drawing from this is essentially to tell you to go and listen to one of my favourite albums. And if you don’t want to listen to the album, at least go and find the ‘Redemption Song’ cover. 



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