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Reggae's Clash remembered

Published:Tuesday | March 9, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Don Letts

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Of the countless punk groups that came out of Britain during the 1970s, none embraced reggae more than The Clash.

According to the Canadian website Jam! Showbiz, a group of American and Canadian admirers has recorded a reggae tribute album to the quartet's guitarist, Joe Strummer.

The set,
Shatter the Hotel: A Dub-Inspired Tribute to Joe Strummer
, is produced by Toronto musician Mark Matthews (aka prince Blanco).

It features acts like Dubmatix, Citizen Sound, Nate Wize, John Brown's Body, Ammoye and Creation Rockers on noted Clash songs including
London Calling
Lost in the Supermarket
One More Time
Rock The Casbah
White Riot

There is also contribution from musician/filmmaker Don Letts, a close associate of The Clash. Letts is best known in Jamaica for directing the 1997 low-budget film,
Dancehall Queen

"My original intention was to make a 'Prince Blanco Plays The Clash' record, just my own personal tribute to Joe and The Clash and their legacy," Matthews is quoted as saying. "Since I work in reggae, dub and ska, the plan was to rework some classic Strummer-(Mick) Jones tracks in that manner."

Strummer and fellow guitarist-singer Jones were the mainstays of The Clash, which was formed in London in 1976. They became close friends with Letts, a Londoner whose parents were Jamaican, and who was playing reggae and punk music at a London club named The Roxy.

One year later, The Clash's self-titled debut album was released. It contained a cover of
Police And Thieves
, originally done by singer Junior Murvin for producer Lee 'Scratch' Perry.

Another track from that set,
Complete Control
, was co-produced by the eccentric Perry. The Clash would later work with another Jamaican producer, Michael 'Mikey Dread' Campbell, on its acclaimed

The Clash's reggae leanings had a strong influence on rebellious British youth who formed punk/ska bands like The Specials and Madness. They also have a major bearing on modern American punk/ska groups like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Sublime.

The Clash disbanded in the 1980s. Strummer died from heart complications in 2002 at age 50.