As I mentioned, signing off yesterday’s blog, I was just off to an industrial estate somewhere in Acton, west London, for what had been described to me as a ‘public rehearsal’ by Carbon/Silicon, the ‘band’ formed by The Clash’s Mick Jones and Tony James, formerly of Generation X and Sigue Sigue Sputnik. I had almost cried off going, but thankfully thought better of what would have been a calamitous decision I would subsequently regretted. It turned out to be a brilliant evening.
We eventually find Mick’s studio and the fabulous lock-up where he’s stored an absolute treasure trove of memorabilia. It’s part of what seems a vast complex of buildings on what recent Joe Strummer biographer and longtime Clash camp follower Chris Salewicz – one of about only 20 people gathered here – tells me is actually the largest industrial estate in Europe, although how Chris has come by this information, I am not entirely sure.
Mick, as it turns out, greets us cheerily in a crowded corridor outside his studio and is soon in deep conversation with my wife about Babyshambles’ Down In Albion, possibly her favourite record, Mick’s production of which she passionately believes had been terribly maligned, a point of view Mick appears to agree with. While they are loc ked in conversation, Chris walks me into the small studio outside which everyone is milling and introduces me to Tony James, who with extraordinary recall remembers me from a Gen X interview some 30 years ago,.
“This is where we’ve spent the last three years,” he tells me, with a glance around the studio, whose walls are festooned, as they say, with a colourful array of posters – prominent among them, images of The Sex Pistols and Sinatra, dean and The Rat Pack., which maybe gives a clue to how Mick and Tony now see themselves, debonair punks in handsome maturity.
Tony, handing out beers, goes on to tell me that they have recorded enough material for at least three albums, and continues to talk enthusiastically about the forthcoming C/S EP, album and the live shows that clearly can’t come quickly enough for either him or Mick.
It’s already hot in here and is soon sweltering as the ‘audience’ squeeze into the room, separated from the band by a mixing desk, the other side of which they’ve set up their gear, Mick to me left, Tony to his right, BAD/Dreadzone bassist Leo ‘E-Zee-Kill’ Williams to Tony’s left and former Reef drummer Dominic Greensmith behind them, a row of clocks on the wall above him that will tell him if he’s interested what time it is right now in Manila or Buenos Aries and other similarly exotic locations.
Mick and Tony are wholly dapper in their suits, Mick with a colourful hankie in the breast pocket of his jacket, now self-effacingly thanking us for being where we are, and then they are speedily rocking, everything they play over the next 30 minutes sounding positively vibrant, fresh and vivacious, great tunes that recall, inevitably, The Clash (the breezy wallop of, say, “Lost in The Supermarket” or “Spanish Bombs”), BAD and a couple of moments that bring vividly to mind the early Who.
They play “Magic Suitcase”, “I Loved You”, “War On Culture”, “The News” – the opening track from the soon-come EP – the terrific “What the Fuck” and, again from the EP, “Why Do Men Fight?”
It’s over too soon, of course, steam coming off everyone by the end that fills the studio like dry ice at one of those Bunnymen gigs of certain legend.
I then spend a happy half hour chatting variously to Mick and Tony and assorted mates and find myself impatient to see them playing again soon, which will be at Bush Hall before they go on at the Isle Of Wight Festival.
See you there.