Carbon/Silicon at T.T. the Bear's Place, April 5, 2008
Britpunk enthusiasts got a taste of what might have been Saturday night as two legends of ’77 — Mick Jones and Tony James — brought their new band Carbon/Silicon to a packed T.T. the Bear’s Place. James, best known as the bassist who helped launch Billy Idol’s career in Generation X, and to a lesser extent as the brains behind the new-wave project Sigue Sigue Sputnik, and Jones, the Clash guitarist and leader of Big Audio Dynamite, have been quietly collaborating since 2002, when they embraced the brave new digital world by posting an MP3 of a song/mission statement titled “MPFree” on their Web site. But the Jones/James link can be traced all the way back to pre-Clash ’76, when the two aspiring glam-rockers (along with Clash drummer Terry Chimes) formed a group called London SS. As everyone knows, they never played a single gig, but James still gets credit for being on hand to help lay the foundation for the Clash.
And Carbon/Silicon are more than just an exercise in punk nostalgia. Although they’ve maintained a low profile, Jones and James have been writing new material for the past five years. Last year, they self-released Carbon/Silicon’s debut full-length, The Last Post. So at T.T.’s, Jones, pasty pale and sporting a thinning combover that brought C. Montgomery Burns to mind, politely ignored the occasional request for the Clash tune “Stay Free.” It wasn’t till the encore, a new tune called “Why Do Men Fight?”, that he alluded to the Clash, as he broke the tune down to introduce bassist Leo “Eazykill” Williams and drummer Dominic Greensmith and then sang a few verses of the Sandinista! single “Police on My Back.” There were echoes of the Clash in the driving rockers “Why Do Men Fight?” and “War on Culture,” the latter with its shout-along chorus of “I ain’t done nothing wrong!” But when James took over vocals for a cover of Rod Stewart’s “Reason To Believe,” and later, when the two guitarists sparred on the rousing set enders “Really the Blues” and “What the Fuck,” it was clear that this wasn’t a celebration of past glories so much as two old friends enjoying the here and now.
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