Strummer/Cash Duet On Marley Classic
The version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" that will appear on late Clash frontman Joe Strummer's final solo album is one of two likely to see daylight by the end of the year. The other features StThe version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" that will appear on late Clash frontman Joe Strummer's final solo album is one of two likely to see daylight by the end of the year. The other features Strummer dueting with Johnny Cash, and is expected to show up on a box set collecting outtakes from the country legend's work with producer/American Recordings chief Rick Rubin.
Rubin recorded, produced and mixed both versions, each of which were cut last year in Los Angeles, during the recording sessions for Cash's most recent studio album, "American IV: The Man Comes Around."
"When we were recording 'The Man Comes Around,' Joe was coming every day, because he loved Johnny Cash, and he just happened to be in L.A. on vacation," Rubin tells Billboard.com. "And he actually extended his trip a week longer just to come every day and be around Johnny."
Rubin recorded a solo version of the song that features Strummer on acoustic guitar and vocals. That version is slated to appear on Strummer's third album with his band the Mescaleros, "Streetcore," due Oct. 7 from Hellcat/Epitaph. The song, Rubin says, also features guitarist Smokey Hormel, who played on "The Man Comes Around." He adds, "I can't remember when we did the piano overdub. I may have played it myself, or it may have been [the Heartbreakers'] Benmont Tench, or [ex-Jellyfish principal] Roger Manning. I'm not really sure."
The duet, which may also feature ex-Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello, is likely to show up on the five-disc Cash retrospective, tentatively titled "Unearthed," and slated to be in stores by Christmas via American/Lost Highway.
"Originally, the song was supposed to be a duet, and we recorded it as a duet. But, just in case, both Johnny and Joe sang the whole song several times," Rubin says, noting that the track was nearly complete ("It wasn't mixed, but most of the overdubs were there") before Strummer died suddenly in December.
While at this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in March, which honored the Clash, among others, Rubin approached attending surviving Clash members Mick Jones and Paul Simonon about the possibility of backing Strummer on the song.
While Jones and Simonon were open to the idea, Strummer's widow, Lucinda, decided it was best that the track not be turned into a posthumous Clash reunion. "[She] decided that if Joe wanted to do a Clash reunion, he would have done it," Rubin offers. "She said that Joe's feeling was that if he would have wanted to record that song or any song with the Clash, he would have done that. And since he didn't, she didn't want to push that on them."