Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited

The 101ers. <i>Astralwerks</i>.

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Here’s a fascinating rock-and-roll artifact: the recordings of the mid-’70s band fronted by Joe Strummer before he led the Clash to punk-rock greatness. This 20-track feast is perfect for noisy parties—and valuable cultural history to boot. The 101ers played exciting, R&B-fueled pub rock, anticipating punk by championing energetic simplicity over self-conscious polish. Already braying in that wounded-beast voice, Strummer exposes his musical roots with covers of Chuck Berry, the Stones, and Van Morrison (a surreal “Gloria”). But lyrically, the agitprop of the Clash is largely absent, with his own material instead chronicling the musician’s life (“Sweety of the St. Moritz”) and even barking out an unlikely love song (“Keys to Your Heart”) with righteous passion.

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