"Elgin Avenue Breakdown
Revisited " CD
Bio-courtesy of astralwerks.com
Before The Clash, Joe Strummer was the lead vocalist/guitarist
in a gritty, R&B-styled London pub band called the 101ers.
The 101ers, named after the number of the squat where they were
living at North-West London (101 Walterton Road), mark a key
point in the development both of Joe Strummer's own musical
sensibilities and also of the burgeoning punk scene.
When the 101ers formed, the mid-70s the music scene had become
stagnant, overblown, laser-filled stadium extravaganzas. In
reaction to this excess, the pub circuit sprouted, giving bands
the chance to play on the same floor where their fans danced.
"Dr. Feelgood were the undisputed kings of that scene,"
noted Joe Strummer, "we were the latecomers, more like
the dirty cousins, because we were squat-rockers and a bit younger
and a bit more incapable. We didn't know our chops, as well.
Eventually we got skilled enough to be probably the second-best
rhythm and blues group in west London after Feelgood, but it
took a year and a half to get there."
Despite Strummer humble estimation, the 101ers became one of
the most exciting live acts in London thanks to their brand
of full-tilt rock'n'roll. "The thrill of discovering old
blues numbers and playing them to people and making them groove
- to us it was new and exciting," remarked Strummer. Word
soon spread so that at whatever pub the 101ers played they were
guaranteed huge crowds without having to even print the usual
However, it was the rumblings of a new musical movement that
would change the musical direction of Strummer as well as a
generation of many other musicians. One night while waiting
to go on, Strummer caught the opening act, a band of unknowns
called the Sex Pistols. "I knew something was up,"
said Strummer, "so I went out in the crowd which was fairly
sparse. And I saw the future - with a snotty handkerchief -
right in front of me." Within a year Strummer had been
poached from the 101ers to join a new band, The Clash, while
101ers drummer Richard Nother eventually joined Public Image
Interestingly enough Joe Strummer's move from cover song singer
to composer for the 101ers came about as a result of his relationship
with a girl who would also become swept up by the punk movement.
Palmolive, who later became the drummer for The Slits was the
inspiration for Strummer composing "Keys To Your Heart"
which became the 101ers first single.
Released years after the break-up of the band, 101er's only
album Elgin Avenue Breakdown originally had a pressing of just
2,000 vinyl copies quickly becoming a cult rarity, frequently
being bootlegged. At the time, the 101ers stood in marked contrast
to the edginess and attitude of the punk movement that immediately
followed them. But while many bands burnt themselves out by
trying to take punk where its limitations wouldn't let them,
Strummer consciously drew upon on his 101ers' rock'n'roll roots
to record London Calling, taking The Clash to a whole new, higher
level. However, the influence of the 101ers on The Clash was
to appear even earlier. Mick Jones had always liked song "Lonely
Mother's Son," a staple from the 101ers' live shows, and
he eventually persuaded Strummer that The Clash should record
it with different lyrics. So "Lonely Mother's Son"
(track #14 on Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited) became "Jail
Guitar Doors," the B-side of the "Clash City Rockers"
single and later, in the US, a key track on the Black Market
Clash album. Also appearing here is the 101ers' cover version
of "Junco Partner" which The Clash would later record
Over the years Strummer was frequently asked about the 101ers
and re-releasing this material was always in the back of his
mind. In an interview with Music Monitor several years ago when
Strummer was confronted with the question if any label was planning
to re-release Elgin Avenue Breakdown again, Strummer replied:
"I am! Honestly, you wouldn't believe. Seattle, Portland,
Anaheim, I talk to a lot of people and they ask, 'What about
that track? What about that album?' Sometimes guys come up to
get it signed. Last night in Denver, coincidentally, the promoter
of the show said there was a bit of a 101ers groundswell going
on! There's guys in that town bootlegging Elgin Avenue Breakdown
themselves because you can't get it."
Now in cooperation with Joe Strummer's widow and former 101ers
drummer Richard Norther this classic material now gets its first
ever official CD release, expanded to include 8 never before
released live and studio recordings. Here now is every studio
track the band ever recorded as well as doses of bristling,
never before released live tracks that made them crowd favorites.
One listen will make it clear that it was with the 101ers that
Strummer honed the skills later used in The Clash.
02 Silent Telephone
03 Keys To Your Heart (version 1)
04 Rabies (From The Dogs Of Love)
05 Sweet Revenge
06 Motor Boys Motor
07 Steamgauge '99*
08 5 Star R'n'R
09 Surf City
10 Keys To Your Heart (version 2)
11 Sweety Of The St Moritz
13 Shake Your Hips (Live)*
14 Lonely Mother's Son (Live)*
15 Don't Let It Go (Live)
16 Keep Taking The Tablets (Live)*
17 Junco Partner (Live)*
18 Out Of Time (Live)*
19 Maybelline (Live)*
20 Gloria (Live)*
Click here for complete Track Notes: