Blog on Books's Reviews > Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer

Redemption Song by Chris Salewicz
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Mar 29, 10

Read in July, 2007

The lead sheet that comes with this book says "The importance of the Clash to modern music is almost impossible to overstate." A strong statement, to be sure, but one that is hard to argue. And while the band was certainly not solely one man's vision, Strummer (nee John Mellor) was the captain of it's apocalyptic view. Salewicz, a longtime writer for England's New Musical Express (NME) is in a fortunate position to write this revealing, up-close-and-personal account of the frontman's life as he covered the punk revolution from it's inception in the UK as well as having been a longtime friend of the subject at hand. (He even wrote his obit for the Independent in London.) In his three years of researching the book, Salewicz leaves no stone unturned - interviewing all of Joe's main band mates, managers, A&R men, etc. as well as a multitude of friends, wives, lovers and professional cohorts - taking us through his early days with the 101'ers all the way to the band's final stadium shows with the Who and even past the last show with Mick Jones at California's famed 'Us' festival. What comes across is a man full of contradictions - a sometimes angry spokesman for the beaten down proletariat, a man who when approaching his 'wilderness years' remained full of self doubt, through to his rebuilding of position with the Pogues and finally his latest band the Muscaleros. As both a journalist as well as a close friend, Salewicz gives perhaps the best view yet into this conflicted soul who fronted what many consider to be the most important band in rock'n'roll. Cheeseburger!

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