Monday, April 30, 2007

The 101ers

Considering yesterday was my 100th post, that would make this post number 101 and what better way to commemorate this then talk about Joe Strummer's pre-Clash band, The 101ers.

Coming together in 1974, The 101ers consisted (although it changed so often that no one's quite sure of who was in the band and when) of Strummer, Clive Timperley on guitar and vocals, Dan Kelleher on bass and keyboards, John Mole also on bass and Richard Dudanski banging the drums. But sadly, much like The Sex Pistols, only album was ever released of theirs, Elgin Avenue Breakdown.

During '74, performing before punk became "punk" (it would truly manifest itself with the release of The Ramones Ramones), The 101ers worked the pub-rock circuit. Sounding like a mix of Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and the Pogues, the band would record very little--and actually only release one single in 1976 in "Keys to Your Heart"--and after hearing The Pistols for the first time, to quote Strummer, "5 seconds into their first song, I knew it was like yesterday's paper. We were over."

The aforementioned "Keys to Your Heart" is the band's most popular and catchiest song. A sample verse goes as such:

"I used to be a teenage drug-taker
I used to hate the taste of cheese
I was gonna be an undertaker
‘Til for your heart I found the keys keys"

The song is undeniably catchy and rivals post-London Calling Clash material in terms of quality. While the rest of the album is quite strong (check out "Letsgitabitarockin'"), "Keys" is clearly the best track.

No official album of The 101ers was released until The Clash became "The Only Band That Matters" and since then, only die-hard Clash fans would go out and buy the album. But thanks to a friend, I'm one of the lucky few.