The concert at Acton Town Hall in London, from which these live tracks were taken, was on November 15, 2002 and turned out to be the second-to-last live appearance Strummer would ever make. On November 22, 2002 the Mescaleros played Liverpool and Strummer died of a congenital heart disease December 22, 2002. Strummer was 50 years old when he died and there's no telling what he would have gone on to do if he had lived. The final Mescaleros recording, Streetcore, was released almost a year after his death in October 2003. As you can tell from the tracks included on this compilation, it was classic Strummer, with a mix of the hard-driving and political ("Get Down Moses" and "Coma Girl") and the introspective ("Redemption Song" and folk music). Also included is "Long Shadow", written for Johnny Cash and recorded with Cash's guitarist Smokey Hormel.
Joe Strummer is still probably best remembered as the lead singer of The Clash, but his career continued for almost 15 years after they disbanded. The new digital-only collection Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros: The Hellcat Years is not only a compilation of material from his post-Clash career, it's a reminder he was much more than just a punk rocker. His work with the Mescaleros was as political and socially conscious as anything he did with The Clash but he also continued to take risks musically as he aged. It's probably about time his work in this second part of his career is recognized as being equally important as anything he did as a member of The Clash. If listening to this collection can convince even a hardcore Clash fan like me of the truth of that statement, it should convince anyone.