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Musings on No 2 Unalike (# 9)

Night Four, No 2 Unalike, Saturday, November 7th @ Fergie's Pub The Clash “The Call Up” and my own “The Sign Up”

Everyone's got their Joe Strummer story. I might as well throw my into the ring. It was 1988 and I somehow found myself in London with a girl who I was certainly courting but who mostly likely had no inkling of this. She definitely was NOT courting me! In any case, we were perusing the listings in Time Out and discovered that James Taylor was playing the Hammersmith and, on the very same night, Joe Strummer and Latino Rockabilly War were at something called the Brentford Leisure Center. Goodbye courtin', time for rock'n'rollin'! I headed out alone to the Brentford Leisure Center which turned out to be something akin to a YMCA. I was very early but got a ticket and headed into what looked like a high school gym. I sat in the bleachers and wondered if I should have gone to see good ole JT instead instead of punk rock gig in a most peculiar venue. Soon thereafter, Joe and the band walked into the room and headed for the stage. A security guard came my way. I managed to get Joe's attention and, for reasons unknown, he looked at the guard, pointed to me, and said: "That guy's cool." Falser words were never spoken! But Joe's kindness allowed me to be the sole audience member for a great soundcheck which included at least two Hank Williams songs. I was blown away. I'd recently been listening to almost nothing but Hank and so to hear my hero soundcheck with a couple tunes from the hillbilly Shakepeare's catalogue was both surreal and uplifiting: a joining of two worlds whose connection, at the time, eluded me. It's pretty easy to see the connection between the Clash's Call Up (from their Sandinista lp) and my own Call Up (from the Donut's 545 collection). Well, the lyrics anyway. I'd imagine the Clash lifted their song from the many dub recordings they were long obsessed with. Me: I took my melody from an obscure Beach Boys track! The Sign Up is one of my favorite Donut recordings. I can't remember who played sax (probably an associate of Matt Cappy's) or piano (Mark Boyce of G.Love and Special Sauce perhaps?). But this is one rocking number. Enjoy!

- Jon Houlon

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