The Paul McCartney of Punk?
March 31, 2007
Here we see a happy geezer, communing contentedly with his guitar:
Who is it? Why, it's Mr. Mick Jones, ladies and gentlemen,
- Formerly co-frontman, with the late Joe Strummer, of The Only Band That MattersTM, The Clash [caution: site launches loudly]
- Formerly frontman of Big Audio Dynamite
- And now, with Tony James of Generation X (from whence sprang Billy Idol) and Sigue Sigue Sputnik, the core of Carbon/Silicon.
Wherefore the McCartney comparison in my post title? Well, not unlike Sir Paul, Mr. Jones
- First appeared in the public eye singing and playing in a highly successful band in which he was also one half of a highly successful songwriting team [the Joe Strummer/John Lennon analogy is inexact, but never mind that];
- Following the breakup of his original group, he formed another reasonably successful band working in a style markedly different from that of the first [the B.A.D./Wings analogy is inexact, but never mind that]; and
- He's still going [Mick Jones is not connected in the tabloids with a foxtrotting animal rights activist, but never mind that].
Jones and James are vigorous proponents of DRM-free music distribution -- an early Carbon/Silicon track, "MPfree," actively promotes file sharing -- and until recently the MP3 page on the band's official site hosted several dozen songs for free download. Most of those disappeared at the beginning of March in order to "keep things fresh." What is up at the moment are six freshly-recorded songs comprising The Crackup Suite EP, including "Buckethead" (inspired by Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash) and "Falun Gong Love Song" (about, of course, Chinese government persecution of followers of Falun Gong). A selection of the older material is still available through a February post on Some Velvet Blog, which is where I first became aware of the project's existence. Additional early tracks are available at Gigvideo, which also maintains a substantial video archive on the band. See also the Jones/James-endorsed fansite, carbonsilicon.info.
Here are some particularly Clash-y examples, any one of which would sound right at home in the middle of, say, Side 3 of London Calling:
- Carbon/Silicon - Gangs of England [MP3 link] -- for fans of intellectual property litigation; the song that Mick is strumming away at in the video above
- Carbon/Silicon - Soylent Green [MP3 link] -- serving all your dystopean needs
- Carbon/Silicon -- The Whole Truth [MP3 link] -- and nothing but
And a few more, moreso in the style of B.A.D.:
- Carbon/Silicon - Liberty Valance (Blog) [MP3 link] -- yes, it's about blogs and about liberty
- Carbon/Silicon - The Duel [MP3 link] -- a history lesson with a moral ("Now you can't shoot the Prime Minister, even by mistake")
- Carbon/Silicon - MPFree
[MP3 link] -- I wonder whether they cleared that "My Generation" sample
Jones and James remain politically engaged, and that politics leans solidly to the old-fashioned Old Labour welfare state left. They seem to distrust Tony Blair and company very nearly as much as Clash-era bete noir Margaret Thatcher. See, for example, this video for "Global War on Culture":
In short, there is very little we have in common, they and I, but rock 'n' roll is a great leveler.