By late 1976, early 1977, the punk movement had become worldwide, to some extent. In the United States, you had bands like The Ramones leading the front for the whole American punk scene, with bands like Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, and other bands following in their wake in the late 70s. In the United Kingdom, though, the movement was a lot larger than in the United States. Bands like the Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and namely, The Clash, were leading the "punk movement" in the U.K., where the youth had largely seemed to have been angrier, which is in large part because of unemployment, alienation, homelessness, etc. The Clash were pigeonholed as the most political of the crop of U.K. bands, although they themselves thought they were "social," since they were mearly discussing what they saw from day to day. Some critics skewed them as just propaganda-pushing punks who talked the talk, but didn't walk the walk. In 1979, though, The Clash released on of the greatest albums of all time, a testament to politcal and social awareness in the world via music. This is London Calling
(Though originally titled The New Testament
was recorded throughout the winter of 1979 with the rather eccentric Guy Stevens producing. Their have been several accounts in which people have said that he has thrown chairs and screamed violently to get the band motivated, and poured beer into a piano to make sure that nobody played it when he wanted them not to. Although these methods seem outrageous, it must have had an effect on the sound of the album. The sound is by far the best overall quality achieved on any of the Clash's albums. Unlike Give 'Em Enough Rope
, which was produced by Sandy Pearlman, the production fits the aspects of the music all quite well, like a new pair of pants.
Unlike every other so-called "punk" bands that came by in the few years leading up to the recording of London Calling
, The Clash knew when they had ran the three-chord-fast template into the ground. Many people accuse this as "selling out," but actually, this is the most punk
thing The Clash had actually done. Instead of being trendy conformists, we finally get to see what Joe Strummer and Mick Jones' record collections may have contained, as Joe Strummer was an avid fan of raggae, dub, ska, rockabilly, etc., and Jones a fan of pop and R&B. There are horns aplenty, piano, organ, etc.
itself is a sampler bag of musical genres. You have apocalyptic, dreary punk ("London Calling"), lounge jazz ("Jimmy Jazz") ska ("Hateful,") and ("Rudie Can't Fail"), disco-pop ("Lost in the Supermarket"), etc. While the mixture may seem overwhelming and unorganized, it isn't. Oddly enough, The Clash seem to make the songs fit almost perfectly together. The political outcry and social awareness, The Clash's trademark, are also fully present here, but in a more vague manner. Instead of chanting "Repression!," The Clash use clever metaphors whilst telling stories, which signifies how much they had grown as writers since they first started in 1976. The horns punch through on plenty of the songs, especially "Rudie Can't Fail," and and spice the songs up more. There's also piano and organ present, as on the grandious, dramatic "The Card Cheat," "Wrong 'Em Boyo," and "Clampdown". Though it may seem like The Clash have turned into a roots-revival band, they still know how to rock. "Clampdown" may be just one of the most truly energetic and angry songs The Last Gang in Town ever wrote, a rallying cry against conformity and working the 9 to 5 in a dreary, Orwell-esque world. Another surprise on the album is the track that was intentionally left off the sleeve for concern of being "too poppy," "Train in Vain". Mick Jones delivers a great vocal performance over a rather funky guitar riff and drum beat. Add some generic sounding harmonica, and you have yourself a great pop song!
is one of the greatest, and one of the most important albums of all time. Every song is fantastic in its own right, each deserves your full attention to fully understand what exactly Joe or Mick is trying to get you to understand. Who knows, maybe it will change your life. It certainly has mine.
Recomended downloads :
"Rudie Can't Fail"
"The Card Cheat"
"Train in Vain"