Hear “London Is Burning” From New Joe Strummer Demos & Rarities Comp
If Joe Strummer had never done anything outside of the Clash, that would’ve been enough. That band, they’re one of the absolute Greats, one of those groups that is so iconic and influential that Strummer’s legend in rock history was easily solidified by that alone. But though his releases were more sporadic after the Clash fell apart, he still recorded a lot of other great music before his untimely death in 2002. It may not be as well-known, it may not contribute to the scope of his legend, but there’s a lot of stuff that is very, very much worth hearing and has gone lesser-noticed in the grand scheme of things.
Perhaps that’s about to change. This fall, there’ll be the first compilation spanning all of Strummer’s non-canonical Clash work and his music outside of the Clash — his early recordings with the 101ers, solo material, loose ends from the Clash’s forgotten mid-’80s period, and his weathered and rich late-career albums with Mescaleros. The collection is going to be available in multiple formats, including a standard double-disc and then a more expanded special edition box set that comes with a couple extra songs and a book.
In any iteration, Joe Strummer 001 is made up of often rare and unreleased material, songs Strummer wrote for soundtracks throughout the years or demos that were uncovered after his death. It serves as an overview of all the corners of his career other than the famous Clash albums, starting with his origins and continuing through to his underrated work with the Mescaleros; there are songs he and Mick Jones collaborated on for the Sid And Nancy soundtrack, the first time they’d partnered since 1982’s Combat Rock, three years beforehand.
Along with the announcement came a preview in the form of “London Is Burning,” an early version of what would become “Burnin’ Streets” on Strummer’s last album, the posthumously released (and very, very good) Streetcore from 2003. The iteration of the song that did eventually come out as “Burnin’ Streets” is a meditative, mid-tempo song with a more atmospheric quality to it. Though not quite as raw and visceral as its similarly-titled 1977 forebear “London’s Burning,” “London Is Burning” is a more rock-oriented initial take than what ended up on Streetcore in the end. Check it out below.
This article originally appeared on Stereogum.