Redemption Song
Chris Salewicz
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Buy *Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer* by Chris Salewicz online

Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer
Chris Salewicz
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Hardcover
640 pages
May 2007
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Though The Clash was at the forefront of the punk swell that washed over England and then the U.S., the British quartet truly swept well beyond the musical boundaries of that severely limited style. They embodied shades of dance disco, rock country, rock pop, rockabilly, and reggae. The band was composed of Mick Jones (vocals/lead guitar), Paul Simonon (vocals/bass guitar), Topper Headon (drums), and lead vocalist/guitarist Joe Strummer. It was Joe's unique singing style and his brave and bizarre songwriting that brought the band its acclaim.

Here, his story is told by longtime friend and journalist Chris Salewicz. Because of the author's close and personal relationship with Strummer, he was able to unearth and conduct exclusive interviews with Joe's friends, musical acquaintances, and relatives. Strummer died on December 28, 2002; Salewicz began working on this detailed memoir within days after his death.

Strummer was a unique hybrid of politico, man of passion and gifted artist. All facets of his life are covered here and include the examination and appreciation of Strummer's most enduring work on albums like London Calling, Sandinista! and Combat Rock. There is a focus on Joe's politics, that leaned somewhere to the left of left. The guitarist saw no divide between politics and art and was forever combining the two on songs like "White Riot," "London's Burning," and "Career Opportunities." All these tracks are given page space here and represent just a portion of this aspect of Strummer's character.

The book is deftly and delicately written, wonderfully expressed, and thoroughly researched. The author is a true veteran (having written tomes on everyone from The Pretenders and Paul McCartney to Jimi Hendrix and Noel Coward) and probably understood his friend Joe as well as anyone who ever knew him.

To really appreciate the depth and craft of The Clash and its main man, Joe Strummer, you might want to gaze at these pages. It is an amazing story about an amazing journey.



Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Steven Rosen, 2007

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