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Rock Art and the X-Ray Style is the debut album by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, released in 1999. This album featured the band in its first incarnation: Joe Strummer and Antony Genn on guitar and vocals, Martin Slattery playing keyboards and guitar, Steve "Smiley" Barnard on drums, Pablo Cook on other percussion instruments, and Scott Shields on bass. Richard Flack also did engineering on the album.

Rock Art and the X-Ray Style
Studio album by
Released19 October 1999
GenreAlternative rock
ProducerAntony Genn, Richard Norris
Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros chronology
Rock Art and the X-Ray Style
Global a Go-Go
Singles from Rock Art & The X-Ray Style
  1. "Yalla Yalla"
  2. "Tony Adams"
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars[1]
Christgau's Consumer Guide(neither)[2]

The record marked Strummer's re-emergence from a long absence in the music scene, his last record being 1989's Earthquake Weather. The album begins with "Tony Adams," a track which sounds not unlike Strummer's previous work with The Clash. Saxophone riffs are juxtaposed with reggae inspired guitar, as Strummer recites lyrics detailing a catastrophe hitting New York City. The rest of the record takes a winding journey, with songs that capture Strummer's genre mixing. "Sandpaper Blues" features hand drums and African chanting, "Techno D-Day" dabbles in electronic instruments, while "Road to Rock and Roll," another song written by Strummer for Johnny Cash combines acoustic guitar with turntables and electronic drums. "Yalla Yalla" Strummer himself once described as "an ancient British folk song....written in the year 1999." [5] The song is rich in layers, which includes keyboards, synths, bass, drums, and a guitar with endless sustain (likely provided via an e-bow). The song "Tony Adams" was named after the football player of the same name.

"Yalla Yalla" and "Tony Adams" were both released as singles with music videos shot for each. The video for "Tony Adams" features Strummer walking down the street of New York City carrying a ghettoblaster. Rancid's Lars Fredriksen makes a brief appearance in the video.

A remastered version of the album along with Strummer's other two Hellcat released albums was released as a special 57 song digital download titled Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros: The Hellcat Years on 21 August 2012 to celebrate what would have been Strummer's 60th birthday. Hellcat will also release each remastered album individually on CD and vinyl on 25 September 2012.[6]

To promote the album, Strummer embarked on his first tour in ten years which included his first North American tour since 1989.[7]

Track listingEdit

All lyrics written by Joe Strummer.

1."Tony Adams"Joe Strummer, Antony Genn6:35
2."Sandpaper Blues"Joe Strummer, Gary Dyson, Richard Norris4:28
3."X-Ray Style"Joe Strummer4:36
4."Techno D-Day"Joe Strummer, Antony Genn4:09
5."The Road to Rock 'n' Roll"Joe Strummer, Antony Genn4:00
6."Nitcomb"Joe Strummer, Antony Genn4:32
7."Diggin' the New"Joe Strummer, Richard Norris3:09
8."Forbidden City"Joe Strummer4:48
9."Yalla Yalla"Joe Strummer, Pablo Cook, Richard Norris6:58
10."Willesden to Cricklewood"Joe Strummer, Antony Genn6:46
Total length:49:44


  • Joe Strummer - lead vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mixing
  • Antony Genn - synthesizer, guitar, piano, bass, strings, beats, backup vocals, programming, mixing, producer
  • Richard Norris - keyboards, E-Bow, drum programming, producer
  • Martin Slattery - Hammond organ, Wurlitzer, melodica, saxophone
  • Scott Shields - acoustic guitar, bass, electric guitar, backup vocals
  • Pablo Cook - percussion, drums, backup vocals
  • Steve Barnard - drums
  • Dave Stewart - acoustic guitar
  • Ged Lynch - drums
  • Gary Dyson - backup vocals, chant
  • B. J. Cole - pedal steel
  • D.J. Pete B. - scratching
  • Richard Flack - programming, engineer, mixing
  • Ian Tregoning - engineer
  • Damien Hirst - cover art
  • Streaky Gee - mastering


  1. ^ William Ruhlmann (1999-10-19). "Rock Art and the X-Ray Style - Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-05-20.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (2000-10-15). "Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros". Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. Macmillan Publishing. ISBN 9780312245603.
  3. ^ "Rock Art And The X-Ray Style". NME. Retrieved 2018-01-06.
  4. ^ Dolan, Jon (December 1999). "Reviews". Spin. SPIN Media LLC.
  5. ^ "20. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - Yalla Yalla". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-05-20.
  6. ^ [1] Archived August 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^