Personnel: Joe Strummer (vocals, guitar, samples); Scott Shields (acoustic
& electric guitars, harmonica, bass, percussion, programming, background vocals); Simon Stafford (guitar, cello, trombone, background vocals); Martin Slattery (guitar, tenor saxophone, piano, Wurlitzer piano, chamberlain, Mellotron, drums, tambourine, percussion, programming, background vocals); Rick Rubin (piano); Benmont Tench (harmonium); Josh Freese (drums); Luke Bullen (congas); Richard Flack, Cameron Craig (programming).
One of the few true heroes of the punk era, former Clash frontman Joe Strummer walked it like he talked it, never losing his commitment to either his music or his ideals. After his 1989 solo album, EARTHQUAKE WEATHER, he decided he didn't have anything to say and fell off the radar for 10 years before returning to active duty. STREETCORE marks his third album since that '99 re-emergence, and possibly his strongest solo album to date. This fact is all the more poignant in light of Strummer's death shortly before STREETCORE's completion.
He has left us a swansong of which he could be proud. His famous eclecticism is full-on; this makes the wide-ranging SANDINISTA seem like GIVE 'EM ENOUGH ROPE by comparison. A dizzying fusion of electronica, reggae, funk, hip-hop, rock, folk, blues, world music, and more, it's what he'd been working his way up to ever since his comeback. Things never spiral out of control, as his lyrics are the most focused he'd written since his Clash days--simultaneously political and playful. STREETCORE closest with a cover of Bobby Charles's "Grow Too Old" (retitled "Silver and Gold"), a vow to live life to its fullest that would seem tragic in context had not its singer done exactly that all the way to the end.
What the critics say...
Rolling Stone (10/30/03, p.88) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...STREETCORE continues the band's lightly amplified muscular-acoustic sound. Because his restless, barbed self will never be back to shake us awake, it's...fun to hear Strummer spill his subconscious..."
Spin (01/04, p.102) - "...The Clash-like 'Arms Aloft' finds old Joe summoning more spit than he has in years..." - Grade: B
Entertainment Weekly (10/24/03, p.106) - "...STREETCORE, with its loopy, eager-to-please vibe, is just the sort of punky reggae party [the late Joe Strummer] was born to throw..." - Rating: B+
Q (11/03, p.123) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...It's 'Silver & Gold', a reworking of a Bobby Charles song, that brings home the poignancy of this release..."
Uncut (01/04, pp.84-7) - Ranked #11 in Uncut's "Albums Of The Year 2003"
Uncut (11/03, p.110) - 5 stars out of 5 - "...STREETCORE is something to celebrate, proof that, right up to his death, Joe Strummer was working at the peak of his powers..."
Magnet (11/03, p.107) - "...Joe Strummer gets in the last word: an unnervingly powerful, cathartic final statement..."
CMJ (10/13/03, p.8) - "...The 10 songs of STREETCORE prove Strummer still had a lot to say, and he packed it into some of his most memorable choruses..."
Mojo (Publisher) (01/01/04, p.59) - Ranked #11 in Mojo's "The Best of 2003"
Mojo (Publisher) (11/03, p.131) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Lyrically, it's intimate, heartfelt, honest yet tough, while musically it covers what Joe did best..."