Revolution Rock: A Clash Jukebox
June 11, 2007

Track list
  1. Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers - Roadrunner
  2. The Troggs - I Can't Control Myself
  3. Desmond Dekker - Israelites
  4. Bo Diddley - You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover
  5. The Kinks - Dead End Street
  6. Roger Miller - King Of The Road
  7. Anthony Newley - Pop Goes The Weasel
  8. Vince Taylor & His Playboys - Brand New Cadillac
  9. The Ramones - Blitzkrieg Bop
  10. Junior Murvin - Police & Thieves
  11. The Maytals - Pressure Drop
  12. Booker T - Time Is Tight
  13. Thunderclap Newman - Something In The Air
  14. The Bobby Fuller Four - I Fought The Law
  15. Lloyd Price - Stagger Lee
  16. Rulers - Wrong Em Boyo
  17. Danny Ray - Revolution Rock
  18. Alton Ellis - Dance Crasher
  19. Willie Williams - Armagideon Time
  20. James Booker - Junco Partner
  21. Mose Allison - Look Here
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 3 Sound quality : 3 Sleeve : 5
This album went under the reggae-vibes radar on release, so time to remedy that.

It's a fine album, and very much represents the down to earth, no frills music scene in London just before punk rock broke in London. Everyone in the mid 70's underground scene was totally fed up with progressive, or "pomp rock", and were desperate for something else -- stripped down, bare bones rebellious music, with an attitude, sense of style and swagger.

Before Lydon and co altered the entire face of the music scene, people took inspiration from American bands like MC5, The Stooges -- but also from hard aggressive r n' b artists from the 50's like Bo Diddley and looked to 70's garage bands like Jonathon Richman. And of course, bluebeat and hardcore dub was also transforming people's entire consciousness.

This album showcases a fine cross section of those styles -- Bo Diddley's terse, philosophical rockabilly blues of "You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover" admonishes the listener to look deeper than the surface image, driven by a percussive, scything guitar. Bo Diddley once commented that he played guitar like other musicians played drums -- That attitude shows in this pile driving, primal percussive rhythm. If you love these vibes, then be sure to check out Bo Diddley's totally essential, other worldly "Mona" , the dark "Who Do You Love" and the rockabilly confidence of "Roadrunner," all of which display all the aggression and genre breaking innovation of early punk rock.

Clearly, The Clash had been heavily influenced by rockabilly -- anyone who listens to Joe Strummer's first band, The 101'ers and their tunes like "Sweety Of The St Moritz" will testify -- so the addition of rockabilly on the album makes sense. Vince Taylor, an early veteran from the London first wave 50's rockabilly scene, contributes the sullen, threatening "Brand New Cadillac", covered by the Clash on their "London Calling" album. The version here has all the nihilism and destructive resentment of The Clash version.

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers contribute their early garage punk classic, "Roadrunner", which The Pistols covered in their early rehearsals. The song memorably opens with a cliche breaking count off -- "1-2-3-4-5-6!"

The Troggs weigh in heavily here with their garage punk rock classic, "I Can't Control Myself", also covered by other psychedelic garage thrash bands throughout the 60's and 70's. The Buzzcocks also covered the track in their early performances -- there are numerous late 70's Buzzcocks bootlegs doing the rounds which showcase Pete Shelley's spirited interpretation of the punk rock DNA of The Troggs tune to good effect.

In the time we find ourselves in the early 21st century, when music is polished, over produced and over commercial, then a collection of rockabilly, garage punk rock nuggets and early rebel roots music like this is welcome. The reggae tunes here are easily available, and probably won't stand out to the serious reggae follower -- but it is the non reggae tracks which sound so compelling and so essential.