Joe Strummer's final studio recordings will be released on an as-yet-untitled album in May, and the disc may include material he recorded outside of his band, the Mescaleros.
The former Clash singer/guitarist died December 22 at age 50 (see "Joe Strummer Of The Clash Dead At 50"). He was in the process of recording a third album with the Mescaleros at the time of his death, according to a spokesperson for Epitaph Records, which puts out Mescaleros albums via its Hellcat imprint.
Strummer's bandmates are slated to enter a studio within the week to start sifting through the tracks with completed vocals and mixing the album. In addition to the Mescaleros material, Epitaph is considering including songs Strummer recorded without the band, including "Long Shadow," written and recorded with Beck guitarist Smokey Hormel.
Strummer released two albums with the Mescaleros, 1999's Rock Art and the X-Ray Style and 2001's Global a Go-Go. The group performed a number of new songs on a fall U.K. club tour, including the tentatively titled "Coma Girl," "Get Down Moses," "Guitar Slinger Man" and "Dakar Meantime." According to a Hellcat Records spokesperson, "the band was working on getting the songs in great shape by playing them live before going into the studio in December." It is still unknown how many songs were recorded prior to Strummer's death.
Just before his death, Strummer was also at work on "48864," a song slated to debut at a February 2 AIDS-awareness concert organized by former South African President Nelson Mandela (see "Bono, Shaggy, Macy Gray To Play AIDS Benefit In South Africa"). An all-star group of musicians including Ludacris, Coldplay, Eve, Macy Gray, Nelly Furtado and Shaggy will perform the song, which was written by Strummer with Bono and former Eurythmics member Dave Stewart. The 10-minute track — named after the prison ID number worn by Mandela during his 27-year Apartheid-era incarceration — features typically poignant, poetic lyrics from Strummer.
"When freedom rises from the killing floor/ No lock of iron or rivet can restrain the door/ And no kind of army can hope to win a war/ Like trying to stop the rain or still the lion's roar/ Like trying to stop the whirlwind scattering seeds and spores/ Like trying to stop the tin cans rapping out jailhouse semaphore," read a portion of the lyrics, as quoted in Rolling Stone.