The Clash
London Calling


5.0
classic

Review

by ronburgandy USER (9 Reviews)
July 29th, 2012 | 46 replies | 2,322 views


Release Date: 1979 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Clash do everything right

4 of 4 thought this review was well written

While The Clash began as a punk band, by the time they released London Calling in 1979 it was abundantly clear that they had transformed into something completely different. On this classic album, the band triumphantly burst through the confines of the genre and released a hugely ambitious double album that coveres a wide range of musical styles. While that is a noteworthy feat in itself, London Calling also boasts a mindboggling number of not only good songs, but fantastic songs. The record is simply one of the all-time greats and still sounds just as fresh, invigorating and powerful now as the day it was released.

The album opens with the tight, punchy guitars and rolling bass of the title track, which is grounded by Joe Strummers apocalypse-fearing lyrics. Jimmy Jazz demonstrates the band’s quieter side and introduces the horns used on a number of tracks. Spanish Bombs is one my personal favorites; there’s just something about the unadulterated bliss of the track that takes it to another level. The Right Profile shows the big band sound that The Clash use with gusto and features a great sax solo. The band proves it can still rock with roaring, politically charged Clampdown, which is followed up by the dark reggae-infused sound of Guns of Brixton. Lost in the Supermarket showcases Strummer and the band at their most introspective, delivering a tragic, intimate, but stil catchy song. The album remains stellar through its second half, with the joyous I'm Not Down and Death or Glory, which features my favorite lyric on the record “He who ***s nuns will later join the church”. The final, originally unlabeled song, Train in Vain, sees the Clash experimenting with pop, but it's actually one of the best songs on the record and at the time it became a modest radio hit.

The lyrics on the album are consistently great, being equal turns depressing, uplifting, angry, fearful and politically provocative. Strummer and Mick Jones also share vocal duties to nice effect and even Paul Simonon, the bassist, sings on Guns of Brixton. In addition, the instrumentation is inventive and diverse, miles away from what other punk bands were doing at time. To be fair though, London Calling can’t really be compared with punk music, as by this point, The Clash, having revolutionized the genre, were essentially finished with it. In fact, one the album's greatest strengths is the way it proved that the band could reinvent themselves musically, while still maintaining the energy and power of their rawer earlier work.

However, London Calling’s genius lies not only in the strengths of the individual songs but also in its general quantity, quality and diversity. The Clash were able to find the perfect balance of experimentation, accessibility and most importantly good songwriting, a balance which was to be forgotten on their next album, the bloated, overly ambitious Sandinista! and never again found. Even more impressive is the way the album coheres as a whole: no other double album is able cover the musical range exhibited on this one while still retaining a unified feel quite like the way London Calling does. The way each song flows into the next, coupled with the realization that not a single one (perhaps barring Lover’s Rock) is bad or even mediocre creates such a powerful, enjoyable listen that it feels far shorter than its length of one hour. At the end of the day, there are simply no more accolades I can pile on this thoroughly brilliant music triumph and the way it showcases a band at its absolute peak.



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user ratings (1914)
Chart.
4.5
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2012



50093 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Porch is not gonna like this

Digging: Tiny Moving Parts - Pleasant Living

LifeAsAChipmunk
July 29th 2012



4854 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I recall not loving this album. Well, I'm not one for classic punk in general.

ronburgandy
July 29th 2012



250 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

give it another shot, it's unbelievably good

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2012



50093 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

How can you even say that

MichaelSnoxall
July 29th 2012



12163 Comments


Great album.

LifeAsAChipmunk
July 29th 2012



4854 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

What, not liking classic punk? Just the whole general style and production just doesn't do anything for me.

Fluttertrank
July 29th 2012



17098 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

fag

blastOFFitsPARTYtime
July 29th 2012



1477 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Noooooooo Chipmunk, say it ain't so.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2012



50093 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Every btbam album except for one has more ratings than any punk album

MichaelSnoxall
July 29th 2012



12163 Comments


What's the Punk exception?

blastOFFitsPARTYtime
July 29th 2012



1477 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The kids these days..

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2012



50093 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

No the exception is one btbam album has less ratings

blastOFFitsPARTYtime
July 29th 2012



1477 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Just a few nitpicks because I'm bored:

"there’s just [insert 'something' or equiv.] about the unadulterated bliss of the track that takes it to another level"

"London Calling can’t really be compared with punk music, as at this point, as The Clash" - get rid of the second as

"London Calling’s genius lies genius lies"

Apart from that, nice review. Pos'd.

My favourite tracks on here are Lost in the Supermarket and the title track.

LifeAsAChipmunk
July 29th 2012



4854 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Not really just a classic punk thing, more of I just can't like a lot of 60s-80s music because of the production. It's usually very hit or miss. Production is the main reason why I can't like a lot of older metal bands.

tarkus
July 29th 2012



5560 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

too raw for you eh

Fluttertrank
July 29th 2012



17098 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thats sad, i love old school production, how the fuck cant you

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2012



50093 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Dude production was so much better back then, so clear and not loud and distorted as fuck and tube amps oh man

Fluttertrank
July 29th 2012



17098 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yep, it was raw and all-natural

MichaelSnoxall
July 29th 2012



12163 Comments


The only problem I have with older production is that I can't listen to some albums as loud as I'd like. I max out Death's Scream Bloody Gore and it's still considerably "quiet"

Blackbelt54
July 29th 2012



4269 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Production on this album is fine. This might be the most important albums ever and one of my favorites, Alvin the Chipmunk you disappoint me. Nice review pos'd



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