Footnote Forgoes Retrenchment, Slinks Mysteriously Instead


The 101ers’ Elgin Avenue Breakdown (Revisited) compilation was rereleased last June with bonus live tracks, but I delayed listening as I’d heard that the 101ers were of only historical interest, nondescript mid-’70s pubbers whose sole distinction was that guitarist–lead singer Joe Strummer went on to great things with the Clash. Well, I wish I’d played this sooner. Yes, it limits itself to rockabilly, r&b, rock ‘n’ roll, a bit of garridge, but it’s got something, got somethings: Joe Strummer for one, who pulls great hunks of beauty from his hoarse throat. Also—and this surprised me because I’d ignorantly thought of most pub rock as retrenchment (in contrast with what was going on at the same time in proto-punk America, where rockabilly and garage rock songs were remade as sly, swift things that could eat through foundations and tear passageways into the future)—the 101ers put mystery and excitement in the songs: not American proto-punk adventure, usually, but versions of Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips” and Bo Diddley’s “Don’t Let It Go” that move with a squirmy slink. This album does have its stodgy patches. But I’ll swear that in the live “Gloria” you feel some of the rediscovery and reinvention that you get in Patti Smith. Plus a real good groove.