"Rudi" is sandwiched between live covers of Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come" and the Ramones "Blitzkrieg Bop". The three were originally released as the B-side for the single of the Mescaleros' song "Coma Girl". Listening to those three tracks one right after each other is like listening to the different sides of Strummer all at once. There's the social political statement of "The Harder They Come", followed by the still political but lighthearted fun of "Rudi", and finally the raw anarchy/power of "Blitzkrieg Bop". From reggae to ska to power pop/punk without missing a beat, it's almost his career in a nutshell.
I say almost, because while those are aspects of what he was, he was also much more. Listen to his version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" or to his 17 plus minute "Minstrel Boy" and you'll hear a completely different artist. With minimal musical accompaniment he sings the former as if it's a heartfelt explanation of his motivations for making music, "So won't you help to sing/These songs of freedom/Cause all I ever had/These songs of freedom/Cause all I ever had/Redemption songs/These songs of freedom/These songs of freedom". He sings it so simply and honestly, it's hard not to think it's his way of telling people what he's been trying to do all for all he years of his career.
On the other hand "Minstrel Boy" is an instrumental, one of the few if not the only one Strummer ever wrote outside of music he created for movie soundtracks. Aside from its novelty as an instrumental, its interesting musically as well. It shares many similarities with a Celtic folk song including rhythm, atmosphere, and instrumentation, but there's also something about it that makes it markedly different. First is its length of course, far longer than most folk songs, but even more important is what doesn't happen in the song. For while a great many of these types of folk songs (think of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" and songs like that) celebrate or commemorate events in history and have a certain romanticism to them, "Minstrel Boy" doesn't seem to be about anything in particular. There's no mention of any great victories or tragic defeats for people to become worked up over, it's just 17 plus minutes of almost slow dirge like music. It's like Stummer wants to remind everybody there's nothing romantic about war or killing people, no matter what the cause and no amount of stirring songs will change that fact.
While the material on this collection includes songs Strummer wrote when he was with The Clash and covers of material from that time period, all of them were recorded with the Mescaleros. So that means you have Tymon Dogg playing violin on tracks like "Rudi, A Message To You" and the Clash's "Junko Partner" and breathing new life into them. Still, it's hard not to be stirred by the final three songs of the collection where Mick Jones joins Strummer on stage for the first time since he left The Clash 20 years earlier. Hearing them tear through three classic Clash tunes, "Bank Robber", "White Riot", and "London's Burning" is a treat. Yet even then, the songs aren't just faithful copies of what had been done previously as the new band puts their own take on the material.