Rock music got a major kick in the cojones with last December's unexpected passing of Clash founder Joe Strummer at age 50 from a heart attack.
So, needless to say, it's bittersweet to be reviewing Strummer's last album, recorded mostly with post-Clash outfit The Mescaleros, which finally hits stores Tuesday.
Especially since Strummer sounds so vibrant and full of energy.
Among the most notable of the 10 songs here is Strummer's cover of Bob Marley's Redemption Song, given his continuation of the folk-protest singer tradition, and the stripped-down original Long Shadow, which was intended for Johnny Cash to record. Both songs were recorded by Strummer on his own with producer Rick Rubin in Los Angeles.
For the Marley anthem, Strummer is accompanied by Rubin on piano, Smokey Hormel (Cash, Tom Waits, Beck) on guitar, and Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) on organ, while Long Shadow features just Strummer and Hormel.
Standouts with the four-member Mescaleros are the reggae-inflected rockers Coma Girl and Get Down Moses, which finds Strummer at the top his game both vocally and lyrically.
Also good are the more modern and blistering rock tunes Arms Aloft and All In A Day.
The one other cover here is the 1952 Bobby Charles tune, Before I Grow Too Old, renamed Silver And Gold.