Thursday, May 26, 2005

Strummer 101

According to, the only album by Joe Strummer's pre-Clash band, the 101ers, is going to be reissued:

Richard Dudanski, Strummer's longtime friend and former 101ers drummer, is overseeing the release of Elgin Avenue Breakdown (Revisited) (Astralwerks), which features newly unearthed live tracks that showcase Strummer's raw, R&B beginnings. "Sometimes I put it on, and I can remember every detail of the gigs," says Dudandski, who later played with Public Image Ltd. and the Raincoats. "It was a very special time."

During their two-year career, the 101ers (named for the address of the London squat where they formed) became known as one of the city's top R&B acts. They boasted a Chuck Berry jones and colorful, Strummer-derived nicknames -- Richard Nother became "Snakehips Dudanski," a handle that partially stuck. Contemporaries of such bands as Dr. Feelgood, the Strummer-fronted 101ers were part of a back-to-basics movement that cleared the decks for punk -- which ultimately enticed Strummer to leave the group and join the Clash.

...The original studio sessions are augmented by live material from a pair of cassettes Dudanski uncovered. The album's recording of the Rolling Stones' "Out of Time" comes from a high-energy show the 101ers played at Wandsworth Prison in 1976. "The last time Joe and I spoke was about four months before he died, here in Spain, and I talked about that actual gig as the best one ever, and he kind of agreed," says Dudanski. "So that was one of the reasons I wanted to put it on there."

...When Strummer left the 101ers, Dudanski says that he was also invited to join the fledgling Clash. He refused, he says, because he didn't trust the band's manager, Bernie Rhodes. And, according to Dudanski, Rhodes' insistence on erasing all aspects of Strummer's "supposedly dubious past" -- including any acknowledgment of the 101ers -- left him feeling "really pissed off with Joe."
Later, Strummer came to acknowledge his role with the 101s, but big deal. It's not very impressive when someone does something lousy to become successful, then after they become successful, they say they shouldn't have done what they did. Like John Mellencamp changing his name to John Cougar and pretending he never wanted to do it. Don't get me wrong, I do like a little Cougar from time to time, but it's just lame.

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