“People can change anything they want to, and that means everything in the world,” plays a recording of Joe Strummer’s voice. “People are running about following their little tracks—I’m one of them—but we’ve all got to stop, just following our own little mouse trail. People can do anything. This is something that I’m beginning to learn.”
Beginning only with the late punk icon’s voice, a video for his previously unheard track “Fantastic” reveals a picture of Strummer’s poignant message of unity and visual precursor to his piercing lyrics.
Along with a spoken word introduction by Strummer, the video features archival footage shot by Strummer, Dick Rude, Julien Temple, Don Letts, and Josh Cheuse, along with a special cameo by Eddie Vedder.
Filmmaker Lance Bangs, who has directed videos for Nirvana, Sonic Youth, R.E.M., Green Day, and more, pieced together unseen footage from the artist’s archives to lend a visual accompaniment to “Fantastic,” and Strummer’s lyrical oratory around dreaming, making change, and better days—Dreaming dreams / Somehow connected with a silver screen / Half-closed eyes, then you realize / Loving the life, and that’s paradise … A little technicolor fade / I dream of parade / This is a fantastic ramshackle day / For a ramshackle parade.
Recorded in December 2002 at the Rockfield Studios in Monmouthshire, Wales, “Fantastic” was one of Strummer’s final recordings, with vocals laid down just weeks after Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros played their last-ever live show at Liverpool University on Nov. 22, 2002, and exactly one month before Strummer’s untimely death on Dec. 22, 2002, at the age of 50.
Produced by David Zonshine and executive produced by Strummer’s widow Lucinda Tait, the boxset, available in CD and vinyl editions, also features exclusive new interviews with Strummer’s friends, collaborators, and Mescaleros bandmates, in addition to handwritten notes, lyrics, and drawings by Strummer.
“There’s so much great music that Joe left us in his archive,” said Tait in a statement. “We started this work last year with ‘001,’ so to focus on Joe’s work with The Mescaleros was the natural second step on ‘002’ because those songs he made with them just seemed to resonate so strongly and reinvigorated his connection with his audience at a level he hadn’t experienced since his days with The Clash.”
Tait added, “He was so excited to work with the Mescaleros and the reception he got from the press and fans was incredible, it gave him a whirlwind of energy and confidence and he was creatively fulfilled and happy. His words are so beautiful and honest and together with the Mescaleros some fantastic tunes were created and to listen to some of the tunes recorded as outtakes for me was really special.”
The Joe Strummer 002: The Mescaleros Years box set is the first comprehensive collection highlighting the artist’s work with his post-Clash band The Mescaleros, and offers a deeper glimpse into the man, the songwriter, the legend with remastered editions of all three of the band’s studio albums, in addition to 15 rare and unreleased tracks pulled from the first demos Strummer wrote for The Mescaleros as well as outtakes from their final sessions.
“People are out there doing bad things to each other,” said Strummer, closing out his opening speech. “It’s because they’re being dehumanized. It’s time to take humanity back into the center of the ring … and follow that for a time.”
Photo: Big Hassle PR