Newest Review: ... perhaps wasn't quite so successful in their even more experimental follow-up Sandinista. The album opens with the well-known title track, w... more
One of the all-time classic albums
London Calling - The Clash
Member Name: markysparky
London Calling - The Clash
Advantages: A band at their peak, songs with soul and meaning
Disadvantages: Some experiments that don't make the grade
This album has very special memories for me. I can remember buying the double LP on its first week of release from a branch of Subway Records in London. I had travelled 90 miles, as a 16 years old, to see Chelsea v Swansea and for some strange reason I just had to buy this album before going to the match. Somehow the records survived the match intact. This was 30 years ago, I can't remember the score (although my team Chelsea won, I think) but I sure can recall the songs on this great package.
This was the third LP from this four man, UK punk outfit and definitely their most accomplished (their subsequent offerings - Sandanista and Combat Rock certainly didn't cut the mustard).
The first 2 albums, The Clash and Give 'em Enough Rope were peppered with punk anthem, 3 minute wonders (classics such as White Riot, White Man at the Hammersmith Palais, Tommy Gun). These were right for their time, mid to late 1970s, and The Clash were right there at the forefront of the punk movement, alongside the likes of The Sex Pistols, The Stranglers, The Damned et al).
Moving on to 1979, the flames of the punk fire were not so fierce or bright and the New Wave movers were starting to dominate. The Clash moved on. They retained their tight, raunchy sound but progressed their lyrics to new, higher, levels (they left behind the repetitive angst ridden choruses of "white riot, I want a riot, white riot, a riot in my home" and replaced them with crafted storybooks) in London Calling.
I now listen to this album on my MP3 player (the record player and my LPs are long gone). There are 19 tracks and I gravitate towards a special shortlist of the following classics:
- Spanish Bombs
- Wrong 'em Boyo
- Death or Glory
- Four Horsemen
- The Card Cheat
- I'm not Down
Lead singer Joe Strummer perorms these songs superbly - his rough, raunchy voice is full of vibrant energy and he's extremely well supported by guitarist Mick Jones, Drummer Topper Headon and Paul Simonen on bass.
The title track was the well known single release and is in similar vein to the songs mentioned above. The Clash are more experimental with some of the other songs, getting farther removed from their punk roots. Songs such as Koka Kola, Train in Vain, Jimmy Jazz, Brand New Cadillac take influence from non-punk genres such as reggae, rock and roll and 'rockabilly' they're very listenable but a long way removed from the spitting venom on 1976 punk.
I love this album, it has stood the test of time, and still sends tingles down my spine (particulalrly when I hear the Spanish lyrics in Spanish Bombs and the depressive downward spiral in I'm Not Down -"So I have lived, that kind of day when none of your sorrows will go away, Go down and down and hit the floor, Down and down and down some more -Depression")
Joe Strummer is no longer with us but his spirit lives on in one of the all-time classic albums, London Calling.
Summary: An album that I've loved for 30 years