The Clash tribute reggae-inspired

The Clash (left to right): Terry Chimes, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Joe Strummer.

The Clash (left to right): Terry Chimes, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Joe Strummer.

ERROL NAZARETH - QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:28 AM ET

TORONTO - While a reggae tribute to Pink Floyd may strike you as either exotic or straight-up weird, a reggae-inspired homage to the late, great Joe Strummer of The Clash should not.

Considering The Clash's forays into reggae -- and these white boys from London did a stellar job cutting crucial reggae and dub tracks -- it seems strange that it's taken this long to release such a tribute. But, it's here and the majority of it satisfies the ears of this massive fan of The Clash.

Conceptualized by Toronto's Mark Matthews, aka Prince Blanco, Shatter the Hotel: A Dub Inspired Tribute to Joe Strummer features Dubmatix, Citizen Sound, Nate Wize, Ammoye, Creation Rockers and Don Letts, who was tight with The Clash. All serve up spirited interpretations of songs such as London Calling, Lost in the Supermarket, One More Time, Rock the Casbah and White Riot.

"My original intention was to make a 'Prince Blanco plays The Clash' record, just my own personal tribute to Joe and The Clash and their legacy," Matthews tells me. "Since I work in reggae, dub and ska, the plan was to rework some classic Strummer-(Mick) Jones tracks in that manner."

Matthews bounced his idea off a few fellow musicians to see if they'd be interested in collaborating with him, and he soon realized he had a hot project on his hands. During a visit to his hometown of London two years back Matthews hooked up with Dave Girvan, an old friend of Strummer's who hipped him to Strummerville: The Joe Strummer Foundation for New Music.

Meeting with Girvan, who's a key member of the organization along with Strummer's widow, Lucinda, and their daughters Lola and Jazz, inspired Matthews to assemble a tribute CD and donate the proceeds to Strummerville.

"Once I got word that they had approved the collaboration, I was good to go," he says. "At this point, I asked Jesse King (aka Dubmatix) if he would like to get on board, and we started reaching out to artists and producers."

Matthews says one of the goals of Shatter the Hotel is to build upon what Strummer once called "the rasta-punk interface." The phrase appears in Don Letts's Westway to the World documentary.

"Joe was elaborating on the early days of punk at The Roxy in London, when there were very few punk records for the DJ to play -- that DJ, coincidentally, was Don Letts! -- so Don played what he thought would sound good, and that was reggae and dub records from his own collection," Matthews says.

"Strummer suggested that what happened during that time was a rasta-punk interface, influencing bands such as The Clash. However, as Don (Letts) will also tell you, Joe, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and John (Rotten) Lydon were already well into reggae long before this."

Matthews feels that same "interface" birthed some of the most vital music that came out of the U.K. in the '80s.

"It influenced bands like The Ruts and Stiff Little Fingers, and ska bands like The Specials, The Selecter, and Madness," he says. "Coming from London, I know all about this 'interface.' It's just part of the fabric of youth culture there and is still very much alive, only it's more of an 'Anglo hip-hop -- Jamaican dancehall interface' encompassing genres such as grime, drum 'n' bass and dubstep."

For Jesse "Dubmatix" King, reworking London Calling was a labour of love, and getting Don to sing on it was "pure magic!

"He was part of the scene, shot (The Clash's) videos, and was a member of Big Audio Dynamite after they split. For me, it was a direct connection to The Clash, and having Dan Donovan from Big Audio Dynamite contribute was just icing on the cake."


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