A handful of albums stand out among the popular music industry's early autumn releases.
The first is in fact a 25th anniversary reissue of the seminal Clash album London Calling. This is a must have album for anyone who wishes to get a taste of the raw, angry and unapologetic energy that catapulted punk onto the British music scene at the end of the 1970s.
In truth, much punk was a mixture of incoherent rebellion and appalling musicianship. The Clash was one of a handful of groups that could genuinely rock and they combined this talent with an explicit political and anti-racist message. It is odd and slightly discomfiting to see this great album repackaged as something of a nostalgia piece with added tracks and an accompanying DVD documentary. To be fair, Don Letts - who made the film - was a genuine friend and collaborator of the band. Something that is certainly welcome is the dedication of the Leftfield at festivals such as Glastonbury to the memory of Clash front man Joe Strummer. Anyone who is curious to find out why should get hold of a copy of London Calling.
Twenty five years later Strummer's sidekick Mick Jones has produced The Libertines' self-titled second album. The implosion of this band, and most particularly the personal demons afflicting singer/guitarist Pete Doherty, has dominated the pages of the music press this year. Much of this is evident on an often crazily chaotic album. Where the album holds together though there are bitter commentaries about modern life and intensely personal and tender exchanges between the group's main personalities of Doherty and fellow songwriter and guitarist Carl Barat.
The success of another east London artist Dizzee Rascal - real name Dylan Mills - should bring a warm glow to those of us who have campaigned against the stereotyping and exclusion of black boys in school and wider society. Mills was quite literally a 'boy in da corner' - the title of his Mercury-awarded first album - at school. Far from simply being ignored, however, he was encouraged by a supportive teacher to develop his musical interests. Showtime, his second release, extends his scope combining denser beats with demands for respect and recognition and declarations of pride that will ring true for a generation of black boys and marginalised youth in general.