After 2 years away there is a new song & video from Carbon Silicon & that is nothing but good news. CS combines the talents of Mick Jones & Tony James, two guitarists who go way back to the days when all the London punks could fit into the The Roxy on Neal St. In fact Tony’s Generation X played at the club’s first gig while Mick’s Clash headlined the official opening. The video for “Big Surprise” is a modern take on the “Subterranean Homesick Blues” film, a snapshot of the diversity & warmth of the good people in our capital city.
There…that’s better isn’t it. Put some friends on to that. It’s a good way to start the day. Stripped down & simple, people who’s ears I trust (though perhaps not their other body parts) have drawn comparisons with the ballads of Mott the Hoople, Mick’s favourite band when he was a lad. “Big Surprise” sounds like the “Higher Power” LP released as Big Audio in 1994. I think that Mick had been ill & I enjoyed those back to basics songs like ” Light Up My Life” & “Modern Stone Age Blues”. If you were expecting anger & aggression then you can’t have been listening since “London Calling”. One of the many outstanding things about the Clash was that did not just rage at the world but sought answers & alternatives. It may be the case that “he, who fucks nuns, will later join the church” but the journey does not have to be from angry young man to grumpy old sod. Strummer & Jones’ lyrics have always had a positivity & if Mick has something to say about the 21st century then I am listening.
In 2007 Carbon Silicon released the best rock CD of the decade. “The Last Post” referenced guitar rock of the past 40 years, combined righteous punk anger with optimism & became the first music for years that I became a little obsessed by. It started like this…
Good morning here’s the news. All of it is good & the weather’s good. After 9/11 this was not the case. Western governments exaggerated the threat of Islamic terrorism & downright lied about Saddam Hussain’s weaponry so that we allowed both incursions into our civil liberties & the invasion of a couple of far-off countries. Movies & TV were rammed with super-heroes queuing to solve problems beyond us mortals. If it was not some end-times fantasy then it was a post-apocalyptic anarchic wasteland. Now I know, & so do you, that for the development of a meaningful class consciousness there needs to be not only a perceived opposition to Babylon but a meaningful alternative, a sense of how things could be better. In the first decade of this century you did not hear or see a lot about a future based on co-operation & consideration. One place I did hear it was from “Here Is The News” by Mick Jones & Tony James, a couple of concerned artists who knew it too.
The songs on “The Last Post” were , I think, based around the band jamming on their favourites. You can hear the Kinks, the Who, a quote from Fleetwood Mac. There’s an authoritative, anthemic, twin-guitar crunch but no retro-recrudescence of an old sound or of redundant punk poses. “National Anthem” is a considered invocation to parents, a recommendation that teaching children the difference between right & wrong is a good thing. I had an early version of this with James Jamerson’s “Grapevine” bass line (thank you Alan McGhee off of Creation Records) but samples need clearance & involve lawyers. I get the feeling that the two of them have had quite enough music business business thank you. These are modern day protest songs written by people who have knocked about a bit & still have something to say about the way things are. If it gets too much, if the arguments just wheel & come again then, as the song goes, “What The Fuck”.
“Caesar’s Palace” is a brilliant re-write & update on “Lost In The Supermarket” one of the great Clash songs. It’s a contemplation on consumerism & its victory in our tarnished democracies. “The greatest crime was to fool all of the people to spend all of the time”. Oh yes…it is a wrong em boyo. This is another appeal to what may seem like common sense but it’s just not gonna happen. The closing lines…”Brought up in a world of Caesars Palace & the odds are a trillion to one & still I want some.”…nailed it. We don’t like it, we sneer at the excesses but we live in the material world & we would not say no to some of that stuff. “The Last Post” is full of good mature songs played by good mature people for…well, give it a listen. I was down my local record shop (now sadly closed) on the day this was released. it is still highly recommended. Ah here’s the “National Anthem” a manifesto for those veterans of the Punk Wars who are still trying to do the right thing.
The emphasis here has been on Mick Jones because I am a bit of a fan boy about the man. Tony James has been around a long time & maybe it is time that I got over Sigue Sigue Sputnik. I have a friend who knows that Tony is a legend & has been since Generation X. My friend actually gets paid for the words he writes…imagine that ! If Danny would like to select Mr James’ finest moments & add a few of those words the loosehandlebars budget could stretch to a quarter of Kola Kubes & a carton of Umbongo (Google them). We would be more than happy to include them here because Carbon Silicon has wrecked all that hanging about with the blatherskite Billy Idol & we need to know more.