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The Clash – London Calling

Review: 080
Date: 17 Jun 02

 


Rating: 5 Stars

Musicians:
Mick Jones - Guitars, Vocals
Joe Strummer - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Paul Simonon - Bass, Vocals
Topper Headon - Drums, Percussion

Tracks Listing:
1. London Calling
2. Brand New Cadillac
3. Jimmy Jazz
4. Hateful
5. Rudie Can’t Fail
6. Spanish Bombs
7. The Right Profile
8. Lost In The Supermarket
9. Clampdown
10. The Guns Of Brixton
11. Wrong’ Em Boyo
12. Death Or Glory
13. Koka Kola
14. The Card Cheat
15. Lover’s Rock
16. Four Horsemen
17. I’m Not Down
18. Revolution Rock
19. Train In Vain

 


Just as the Rolling Stones in the 60’s always had something to prove to the Beatles, The Clash were seen to be snapping at the heels of the Sex Pistols and were obliged in the early part of their career to pull off something exceptional time after time. And that’s just what they did, more or less defining punks agenda in broadening 70’s angst into the world of mainstream and revolutionary politics.

Busting at the seams with creative energy, The Clash’s stunning 1979 double album “London Calling”, digitally remastered from the original production tape, puts both vinyl albums on one C.D. This reissue of the band’s 3rd album features all the original artwork and all nineteen of the original tracks including the hidden hit single “Train In Vain (stand by me)”, their first U.S. single to chart (it reached No. 23 on the Billboard at the time).

“London Calling” more than made up for the artistic and commercial disappointment of its predecessor, 1978’s tried-too-hard heavy metal bluster of “Give’Em Enough Rope”. With ex-Mott the Hoople producer Guy Stevens harnessing their sound like no one had ever done before giving them that vital fresh in your face sound, that gave them the sound of the days youth, which still sounds alive now. The band served up what proved to be the best work of their short lived career (the band finally split in disarray in 1985, but were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll hall of fame in 2001. How punk is that?)

The tracks bouncing from the brutal hard rock of the one cover song (Vince Taylor’s “Brand New Cadillac”), to the rockabilly of “Revolution Rock”, to Reggae in “Rudy Can’t Fail”, and to the apocalyptic vision of the title track with the immortal opening lines of
 
“London Calling to the Faraway Towns,
Now that war is declared - and battle come down,
London Calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, all you boys and girls”.

The Clash knocked down all the musical walls, being to punk what Santana have come to mainstream rock, in being able to take on any style and in the process ended the argument over punk’s viability.

Too many tracks to mention in one review, but in summery, The Clash really deserve their “only band that matters” credo (of course given to them by their record company not themselves) because they don’t try too hard to stay punk like their previous two albums, but instead surrender to the atmospheres of the other genres round them, and make it accessible to all different types of people.

London Calling was couched in the language of revolutionary desperadoes. Influenced by reggae and ska, augmented by Irish Horns, the result was one of the most heady, celebratory Rock ‘n’ Roll records to have come out of the punk movement.

For every traditional rabble rouser like “Death Or Glory” there was a starker truth to London Calling like “Guns of Brixton” that confirmed The Clash’s ideological importance to a generation. Seldom, if ever, has punk sounded so gloriously righteous or so right.

 

Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com


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