Certain Songs #795: Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – “Arms Aloft”

Album: Streetcore
Year: 2003

Given the fact that a couple of years ago, I wrote about The Clash for an entire month, Joe Strummer already had a lifetime pass by the time he gave Mick Jones the boot, so in a way it didn’t even matter that Cut The Crap sucked, he’d already done enough.

Nor did it matter that his songs for the those great and insane mid-1980s Alex Cox films were underwhelming, he’d already done enough.


Certain Songs #794: Joe King Kologbo & His Black Sound – “Another Man’s Thing”

Album: Nigeria Rock Special: Psychedelic Afro Rock & Fuzz Funk
Year: 1973

Ever since I first wrapped my head around the immortal The Indestructible Beat of Soweto back in the mid-1980s, I’ve gone through occasional phases where I’ve waded through various compilations of African pop/rock/whatever music, looking for other songs that hit me as hard as some of those did.

This is just dabbling — I wouldn’t even remotely consider myself an expert on any of it — but I tend to really enjoy what I discover when I go through those phases. And so a few years ago, I came across (actually I think it came from Kirk) the wonderfully titled Nigeria Rock Special: Psychedelic Afro Rock & Fuzz Funk, which featured the truly bonkers 1973 track “Another Man’s Thing” by Joe King Kologbo & His Black Sound, which to me is proof positive that White Light / White Heat made it to Nigeria.


Certain Songs #793: Joe Jackson – “I’m The Man”

Album: I’m The Man
Year: 1979

Fuck yeah, “I’m The Man!”

It goes without saying that my favorite Joe Jackson song is the raver that that gave his second album not just its title, but its reason for existing.

With guitarist Gary Sanford frantically throwing out chords while drummer David Houghton and all-time killer bassist Graham Maby lay down cover fire, Jackson sets himself as the “I Write The Songs” guy of useless ephemera.


Certain Songs #792: Joe Jackson – “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”

Album: Look Sharp!
Year: 1979

When Look Sharp! debuted, Joe Jackson was almost instantly compared to Elvis Costello, not just because they were both U.K. singer-songwriters who flirted with punk rock without ever fully crossing over, but also because they wrote barbed-wired songs about relationships.

As their subsequent careers showed, of course, they weren’t anything at all alike, but in the late 1970s, I guess we could be excused for trying to sort it all out by lumping them in together. If Jackson wasn’t quite as narsty as Elvis the C, he still sported still a pretty decent lyrical edge in songs like “Fools in Love,” “Sunday Papers,” “One More Time,” and the stone cold classic “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”


Certain Songs #791: Joan Jett – “Bad Reputation”

Album: Bad Reputation
Year: 1980

When Tim & I saw Joan Jett & The Blackhearts at the Warnors Theatre in May of 1982, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” had just finished its seven-week run as the number 1 song on the Billboard chart (where it had replaced “Centerfold,” so as you can imagine, there was a shitton of heat around her at that time.

What I remember mostly about it was that the crowd was incredibly young and female: this was clearly tons of teenage girls first concert, and I hope a lot of them were inspired to pick up guitars (or whatever) and start bashing out their own versions of the straighforward rock ‘n’ roll that was Jett’s forte.