Rock Art and the X-Ray Style (Hellcat/Epitaph)

After 10 years of basically fucking around -- some soundtrack stuff here, some touring with the Pogues there, a stray compilation track or two -- Joe Strummer has delivered a new solo album, only his second since the Clash fell apart. But where 1989's Earthquake Weather rocked and rolled, Rock Art and the X-Ray Style takes in ethnic and dance influences alongside the guitars.

Obviously Strummer has been keeping an eye on the music world in the intervening years, and anyone expecting a pseudo-Clash album will be disappointed. The diversity is admirable, but you just kind of wish some of the songs were a little better. There are a lot of good ones, like "The Road to Rock 'N' Roll" and "Forbidden City," but "Yalla Yalla" is embarrassingly new-agey, and "Nitcomb" is just boring. The rest of it grows on you, and of course that voice is still raging, but the best thing about Rock Art and the X-Ray Style is this: It serves as proof that of all the people clinging to the Clash, Joe Strummer is not one of them.

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