Carbon/Silicon features ex-Clash and Big Audio Dynamite honcho Mick Jones and punk wise guy Tony James of Generation X and Sigue Sigue Sputnik. They've been collaborating for about five years and released three full albums on their website before looking for a deal. At first, they were only a studio project using samples of rock and funk standards for their template, which made release on a proper label problematic. In early 2007 they brought in Leo "E-Zee-Kill" Williams from Big Audio Dynamite on bass and Dominic Greensmith from Reef on drums and produced this "real" CD, available in stores was well as on the net. Jones and James take the political consciousness and eclectic rhythmic approach of the Clash and the pop smarts of Gen X and Sputnik and combine them into create something with a retro vibe that blends the best elements of British and American rock into something brand new and yet strangely familiar, at least to longtime fans. The album sounds a lot more Clash than Sputnik, reminding us how powerful a cliché free political lyric can be when it's fused with compelling music and delivered by a singer with the authority of Mick Jones, who seems at times to be channeling the spirit of his old mate Joe Strummer. While most of the songs here are righteously pissed off, the sunshine does break through, literally as well as figuratively, on two of the set's best tracks. "The News" combines a thumping post-disco but not quite techno beat, with punchy electric guitars and Jones ' familiar warble. The song envisions the kind of world we'd all like to live in, where the climate, both actual and political, is fine. Its buoyant vibe informs the other tracks, even the most pessimistic ones. "National Anthem" could never have been written by the old Clash. It's a benediction Jones and James composed for their kids, and parents everywhere, that suggests teaching children right from wrong and respect for the planet and each other could go a long way toward saving the world. Tunes like this often get bogged down in sentiment, but the crackling funk
ock beat and the simple conviction Jones brings to his vocals makes it transcendent rather than sappy. "Why Do Men Fight" sounds like an old Clash tune as played by the Who, an indictment of political insanity, racism, and religious intolerance driven by Williams' Entwistle-like bass runs and the potent double guitar attack of James and Jones. Melodically, "War on Culture" is the kind of pop confection Jones delivered on "Should I Stay or Should I Go," a ballad with a T. Rex vibe that praises the uplifting power of art and questions the morals of self-appointed censors who'd like to start "a cultural civil war." "What the Fuck" has the grinding guitar and bass attack of the early Kinks and neatly juggles anger and humor to take on the malaise of the modern world. "Oilwell" is a plain talking polemic that links 9/11, Osama Bin Laden, Afghanistan's poppy trade, the war in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear program. The solution Jones suggests, bombing Iraq with food and DVDs, may be simplistic but might work better than the path the Bushies took. Many people have opined that the world is so screwed up today it's impossible to write a good protest song, but on Last Post, Jones and James have given us 12 great protest tunes, full of rage, humor, and soulful indignation.