Globalization is a two-way street, and Strummer--using talents that made the Clash pointed but not pedantic--walks the subject up and down with intelligence, playful wit and a personal perspective that leaves the WTO protesters looking like petulant children.
In his second album with the loose, accomplished Mescaleros (in stores Tuesday), he tells of the musical global village in which there's "good hip-hop in Islamabad" and "Ali Farke Toure's in Oaxaca." In "Bhindi Bhagee," he delightedly surveys a London neighborhood's menu of food from just about anywhere--except the "mushy peas" a stranger just in from New Zealand asks about. Perhaps most poignantly, in "Shaktar Donetsk" he sketches a Macedonian exile spirited into England, only to vanish in a no-man's land. The message: We're all global citizens--but we're also all in exile.
And in McLuhanesque fashion, the music tells the stories in tantalizing blends of reggae dub, African high-life, techno loops, Balkan fiddle, rock and many other sounds. It's not so much a world fusion as an inspired collage from everywhere and nowhere in particular.
It may not have the immediate power of "London Calling" more than 20 years ago, but it has all the fire and commitment--and added wisdom.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two (fair), three (good) and four (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.