Song Of The Day 9/21/2014: Topper Headon - "Drumming Man"

The Clash were maybe the most coeval band that ever existed, one of the first who bolted out of the stylistic straitjacket of punk and veered into sounds and mores so few of their contemporaries did. You can say they overachieved, you can tout them as visionaries more than pop stars. Everything they did from The Clash through Combat Rock sounded like they used completely different objects every time. Rarely has popular music been so challenging, and never has a punk group harbored such defiant ambitions.

Then they splintered apart and went on to other projects. Joe Strummer got global, Mick Jones went dancing, and Paul Simonon partnered up with Damon Albarn, and everybody put their best feet forward, The End. All right, have a great day, I'll see you tomorrow when we'll...

Wait... what?

Topper Headon had a solo album too? The Clash's drummer?



Well what the hell did he go and do that for?

Okay, then. I see I'll need to change direction a little bit. Fine. I've done this before. Yes, survivors of the '80s, Topper Headon made a solo album. Made an EP too. And just like Robert Plant, temporarily shelving his denim-jacket faux-blues rock god thing to do '50s power ballads in The Honeydrippers, Headon tossed his vanguard license out the window and recorded a song called "Drumming Man," a remake of a '40s swing hit originally performed by jazz traps legend Gene Krupa.

Headon got a big band playing behind booths that had the initials "TH" stenciled upon them, a red suit jacket that made him look like he'd just played the Devil in a prison staging of Damn Yankees, and a very reserved lead singer. As a soloist he betrays less inborn excitement than Charlie Watts playing on a cardboard box. A rather hastened bout of mid-life nostalgia, if you ask me. But you can't blame a guy for trying. Here's video evidence of the whole operation.
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