The Clash
London Calling


3.5
great

Review

by lz41 USER (32 Reviews)
January 22nd, 2012 | 33 replies | 2,965 views


Release Date: 1979 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Rock's greatest myth album

3 of 5 thought this review was well written

Fearlessly experimental? Yep.
Important, both at face value and for its influence? Yep.
Defining an existential struggle for identity? Yep.
A seemingly never-ending flow of perfect songs? Uh.....
Welcome to 'London Calling', rock's greatest myth album. A masterpiece in every way except for a good chunk of the music.

Don't get me wrong, it's a good album. But its flaws are simply too numerous for ti to be seriously considered a 'classic'. And yes, they are 'fearlessly experimental' here, but there's something amiss about its eclecticism. Previous forays into unconventional genres - reggae on White Man In Hammersmith Palais , boogie-woogie on Julie's Been Working For The Drug Squad - married the intended genre to the Clash's own brilliant, ragged, guerrilla sound. However, the new boundaries broken here - including jazz, skiffle, soul and pop - are too often 'textbook' renditions. The band hasn't taken these sounds and seen how they could stretch, twist or weld them; these songs are parrots. Wrong 'Em Boyo actually has the live, in-the-studio restart at a quicker tempo that defines skiffle (but is ultimately killed by Strummer's gaspy vocal). Revolution Rock is the most embarrassing, fat-white-awful reggae imaginable - the same goes for Jimmy Jazz and pop effort Lover's Rock , which is at least redeemed by the lean, lovable Train In Vain . At best, such as the wild rockabilly of Brand New Cadillac , the Clash's experimentation is endearing and enjoyably, but it is rarely of the greatness that it is hyped up to be.

That said, when all the pieces are pulled together, 'London Calling' contributes moments of unspeakable importance. At a time when British society was seemingly unravelling and the wider world was at a now-or-never point of arrested development, the Clash capture an almost existential crisis: when the world sets out to crush rebellion and individuality with a money-flowing, obscenely corrupt establishment and your destiny is seemingly in the hands of bosses and rich men leading sad lives and the only escape is in emptying bottles, making payments on a sofa or a girl or striking a deal with a hustler who'll drain your soul, then you've got to fight for that soul - be the poet in the trench, making up the ragged army with your flag waving high and wide. When the apocalypse foretold in the grim title track falls, how are ya gonna go to your maker? With your hands on your head or with your head held high, knowing that you were your own person? "Every cheap hood who strikes a bargain with the world/Ends up making payments on a sofa or a girl", rails Strummer against Jones' punching guitar. Life is do-or-die on 'London Calling': the protagonists of Jimmy Jazz , Hateful , Wrong 'Em Boyo , Lost In The Supermarket , The Card Cheat and Guns of Brixton are all facing, physically or spiritually, some kind of extinction. Whether or not they try to get out is their choice, because fate is closing in on them either way.

'London Calling's messages are magnificent. It's intents are magnificent. No, it's music is not always so. Whether or not you are prepared to forgive the Clash for that is your choice, up to you. But hey - making your own choice forms the beating heart of the album.

London Calling
Death or Glory
Spanish Bombs
Lost In The Supermarket
Guns of Brixton
Clampdown



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user ratings (1896)
Chart.
4.5
superb
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Piglet
January 22nd 2012



4652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Jesus this is one goddamn long review.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
January 22nd 2012



6366 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I like the brevity of this review, but with a classic like this, maybe you could have expanded just a little bit more on certain topics. Anyways, nice job.

Digging: Shackleton - Deliverance Series No. 1

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
January 22nd 2012



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Obvious 5 is obvious. Guns of Brixton is possibly my favourite Clash tune. It just has so much tension and contained fear in its rhythm.

Review is more a soundoff than a full length - albums liks this require much more in depth coverage in my humble opinion.

jefflebowski
January 22nd 2012



7379 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

good review, always preferred the debut to this

Digging: Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma

Pentagon
January 22nd 2012



1998 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"...undoubted highlight of the career of the greatest punk band ever."

So its the highlight of the greatest punk band ever, but the rating is only a 4?
But good review man.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
January 22nd 2012



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Oh btw, it's Joe 'Strummer', not 'Strimmer', dude.

jefflebowski
January 22nd 2012



7379 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

lol

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
January 22nd 2012



6366 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Okay, that certainly is one heck of a glaring error!
Must've skimmed over it :-/

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
January 22nd 2012



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Haha, respect for the dead, and that...

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
January 22nd 2012



6366 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

It's been a while since I listened to it, gonna go blast it at max volume

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
January 22nd 2012



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I considered reviewing this myself recently but i'm on a new-stuff streak.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
January 22nd 2012



6366 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

No doubt yours would be a good one, but this album already has enough reviews, imo. No disrespect of course

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
January 22nd 2012



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I feel you. I actually thought that myself. It's not in the pipeline so...

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
January 22nd 2012



49794 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I like this one better

Digging: Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) - You Will Eventually Be Forgotten

Spec
January 22nd 2012



27062 Comments


st is better

Killerhit
January 22nd 2012



5209 Comments


Because it's true

Killerhit
January 22nd 2012



5209 Comments


Not trying to be an overlord

I think you're just being sensitive

Spec
January 22nd 2012



27062 Comments


I have punk in my pie chart. Don't even.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2012



16134 Comments


This isn't a very good album.

Spec
January 22nd 2012



27062 Comments


It's alright.



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