Sunday, December 23, 2012

Five Star Rock & Roll ... Joe Strummer Day 2012 (Show 436)

This December 22nd marked the third annual Joe Strummer Day Marathon for CJAM FM in which we confront poverty in the Windsor/Detroit area to the soundtrack of the music of Joe Strummer and The Clash. I put together a program profiling Joe’s pre-Clash band The 101ers, which can be downloaded in the link after the play list below.

Prior to being in The Clash, Joe Strummer was in a band known as The 101ers. This pre-Clash band was different aesthetically falling under the category of Pub Rock, however if you look band a take a listen to the recordings that were made with The 101ers, you can see the sprouting seeds of Joe Strummer and a portrait of the artist he was to become. The band was named after a place that Joe and the group were squatting in during the mid 70s at 101 Wallerton Road in Maida Vale in the UK. The names origins have also been rumoured to be inspired by the torture “room 101” in George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The bands existence was from 1974 to approximately April of 1976. During the bands existence they did release one single the Keys To Your Heart/5 Star Rock & Roll Petrol in 1976 on the Chiswick record label after the band had broken up. They did make several demos and several live recordings were made, some of which would make their one and only album Elgin Avenue Breakdown which was released long after their break up in 1981 during The Clash's pick up in popularity. The bands musical output was built up upon their live set which heavily relied on numerous cover songs. Although the bands line up did have changes in their line up during their brief existence the band contained members Dan Kelleher (guitar/bass/vocals), Richard Dudanski (drums), Mole (bass until 1975), Clive Temperley (guitar/vocals), Tymon Dogg (fiddle/vocals), among others. The bands sound was built upon early Rock music such as Blues and roots Rock and Roll as evidence by the covers they would play live such as “Gloria” by Them, a variety of Chuck Berry songs, “Out of Time”” by The Rolling Stones, Bo Diddley and The Beatles. Just as the band was picking up in popularity, they even had a single coming out on Chiswick Records ("Keys To Your Heart"), everything changed and they were disbanded.

On April 6th, 1976, The Sex Pistols opened up for The 101ers at Nashville Room and something changed in Joe Strummers musical vision. As he famously has said in interviews and in Don Letts Westway To The World documentary: “Five seconds into their (the Pistols') first song, I knew we were like yesterday's paper, we were over”. Shortly after witnessing the Pistols in all their ragged Punk Rock glory Joe had split up The 101ers, joined The Clash with Mick Jones and Paul Simonon and for a long period of time The 101ers were kind of forgotten. As The Clash continued and grew in awareness in the public eye a compilation album was released in 1981 by the Andalucia label piecing together several 101ers studio demos/outtakes and live recordings.  Entitled Elgin Avenue Breakdown, the collection was put together by Joe Strummer and given a limited vinyl release.  A single of the song "Sweet Revenge" was also released in 1981. 

On this album the band displayed their sense of high energy Rock and Roll enthusiasm in the vein of bands such as Dr. Feelgood, Eddie & The Hotrods, Ducks Deluxe, but the songs found on this release also contained a sense of the early R&B Garage Rock sound that had been employed by British Invasion bands, most notably The Rolling Stones here. The album features standout tracks such as “Letsagetabitarockin’” a fast and clangy guitar driven track being one of the first songs that Joe Strummer wrote/recorded for the band, “Keys To Your Heart” the song released as their first single and played in the early days of The Clash, “Motor Boys Motor”, “Sweety of The St. Moritz” and “Surf City”. “Surf City” is a song accredited to not only Strummer but also guitarist/vocalist Dan Kelleher who would also sing this track live to give Joe a break in the live set. Joe always worked well in the collaboration setting even while in The Clash and Kelleher is also an important factor in this and several of the recordings that The 101ers made. He was a good song writing companion for Joe as was the input of Clive Temperley, Richard Dudanski, along with a variety of musicians that had been involved in the group.

In 2002, Joe Strummer was putting together the idea of re-issuing The 101ers material in one definitive collection, but the project was delayed and it would take some time to be released due to his untimely death in December of 2002. With the help of former 101er Richard “Snake Hips” Dudanski the collection was released in 2005 as Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited. The collection featured the previous songs from the 1981 release plus several outtakes and live recordings. Among the unreleased recording there were versions of Them’s “Gloria”, The Rolling Stones “Out of Time”, Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips” and others. From the previously unreleased 101ers material we have most notably the song “Lonely Mother’s Son”, a song that would be later reworked into The Clash song “Jail Guitar Doors”, it was also one of the first songs Joe penned with overtly political lyrics. Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited is a document of the Pub Rock scene at the time and Joe Strummer’s early Rock and Roll vision. And although up until 1975 Joe went by the name Woody Mellor (inspired by Folk legend Woody Guthrie) it would be a few years before he started composing his literate and at times political inspired lyrics that he would be known for.  The songs on this collection make up an early rough snapshot of the later Clash front man that we would come to know as Joe Strummer.

Joe Strummer Day/101ers Play List:

1. Letsagetabitarockin’ (Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited - 2005)
2. Shake Your Hips (Live) (Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited - 2005)
3. Hoy Hoy (Live at Derby Cleopatras December 12, 1975) (Smokey Joe's Cafe Bootleg)
4. Slippin’ and Slidin’ (Live at Derby Cleopatras December 12, 1975) (Smokey Joe's Cafe Bootleg)
5. Sweet Revenge (Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited - 2005)
6. Hideaway (Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited - 2005)
7. Steamgauge 99 (Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited - 2005)
8. Keep Taking The Tablets (Live)(Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited - 2005)
9. I Saw Her Standing There (Live) (Smokey Joe's Cafe Bootleg)
10. Rabies (From The Dogs of Love) (Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited - 2005)
11. Motor Boys Motor (Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited - 2005)
12. Five Star R 'n' Roll (Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited - 2005)
13. Out of Time (Live) (Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited - 2005)
14. Gloria (Live) (Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited - 2005)
15. Be Bop A Lula (Live at Derby Cleopatras December 12, 1975) (Smokey Joe's Cafe Bootleg)
16. Unknown Song (Pathway Demo March 4, 1976) (Smokey Joe's Cafe Bootleg)
17. Surf City Interrupted (Pathway Demo March 4, 1976) (Smokey Joe's Cafe Bootleg)
18. Surf City (Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited - 2005)
19. Lonely Mothers Son (Live) (Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited - 2005)
20. The Sweety of St. Moritz (Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited - 2005)
21. Silent Telephone (Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited - 2005)
22. Keys To Your Heart (Version 2) (Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited - 2005)

Download this 101ers podcast/radio program:
Revolution Rock Joe Strummer Day 2012 101ers Special

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