The strange life of Mick Jones: the Rotten Hill Gang and a rock library

So many hands does he have in so many diverse pies, Mick Jones has the rare ability to make Damon Albarn look dull and inflexible.

 Having achieved fame as The Clash’s lead guitarist, Jones is now to be found strumming his stuff during live shows from the Rotten Hill Gang, a truly bizarre and rather-wonderful fusion band.  A collective of musicians, RHG combine terrific rapping about gritty London scenes with a passionate female soul singer,  and then throw in trumpets, chants, samples, gorgeous violin introductions that instantly recall James Bond themes and grand show-tune choruses (in the sense of everyone singing) straight out of an Oliver Twist-style musica;, among other myriad elements – the unlikeliest of bedfellows in a fiercely-creative musical commune.  It sounds like it should never work, but somehow it gloriously does. I’m no fan of vaudeville, but this is catchy, and often unwittingly elegant, music.

There are no live dates listed, but I’ll keep an ear out and break any forthcoming gig news when I have it.

Perhaps the shows have been on hold because Mick’s needed time… to open a library.  Yep, you did read that right, and I did type it right.  It’s not the kind of library where you swap a Rankin for a Rendell though, but rather a personal rock’n’roll library containing what Jones called “relics of the last century” in an interview with The Guardian. He went on: “I hope it can be a resource and spark people’s imaginations, create an idea of continual creativity”. The musician additionally hopes his project will highlight the paucity of other music libraries.

Christened the Rock’n’Roll Public Library, and located off Portobello Road mere streets from where The Clash was conceived, it will proudly display 10,000 items from Jones’s personal collection, amassed over three decades and normally stored in an Acton lock-up.  These include evocative Clash clothing, Beatles paraphernalia, retro musical technology and ancient fanzines.  The library will be open only five weeks, between 11am and 7pm, Wednesday-Sunday.  The address is 2 Acklam Road, and postcode W10 5XL.

Meanwhile, Jones himself will be recording with other up-and-coming bands in his studio next door for the Strummerville Foundation.  The man just never stops…

*Thanks to lecool for making me aware of the library…

Rotten Hill Gang on MySpace

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~ by ripamel on 02/08/2009.

2 Responses to “The strange life of Mick Jones: the Rotten Hill Gang and a rock library”

  1. dude you should check out this band… actually from kansas city but london is in its name.

    http://www.myspace.com/londontransit

  2. Ta for the mention. The reason we’re not gigging much at the moment isn’t so much anything to do with Mick, as that we’re finishing off some recording first. We are playing at the Rock & Rock Library (outside under the Westway) on Aug 21 and on Gaz’s stage at Carnival on Aug 30 though.

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