The Harder They Come – Joe Strummer

Another from the endless list of very very cool cover versions.

Joe Strummer and The Long Beach Dub All Stars take on Jimmy Cliff’s legendary blaxploitation theme tune.

This version of The Harder They Come is not the first track recorded to raise funds to fight for justice in the West Memphis Three case featured on this page (see also Camp Freddy doing Bowie a few dozen posts back). The album A Benefit For Truth and Justice featured Tom Waits, Rocket From The Crypt, Steve Earle, Mark Lanegan, Killing Joke and L7 among others. If you’ve got a line up like that campaigning for you, you’re on the right side of history.

This track isn’t anything but a bunch of musos having a ball. You can tell when a band are covering the music they grew up on. The fun flashes through the edges of the recording studio tape. The joy is tangible.

Years after he left us, it’s a rare treat to stumble across a recording of Joe just doing his thing with complete abandon, the rest of the band skanking along. Big horns, freestyling assistance all over the top of Joe’s lead vocal.

The King is no long around to tell this boogie man, he has to let that raga drop. So he rolls with it.

If you’ve not heard this before but are a big Clash or Mescaleros fan I guarantee this will put a big old grin on your face.

This is what a victory lap sounds like.

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