18 of 30 thought this review was well written
The gap between The Clash’s bloated legend and the underwhelming reality of their music is probably best illustrated by their 1979 follow-up to Give ‘Em Enough Rope
. Far from the masterpiece it’s cracked up to be, London Calling
’s critical deification and enshrinement in the rock canon seems to have been assured due to its accessibility and time of release; its eclecticism and memorable iconography earning it prestige and symbolic representation of the growing experimentalism within punk rock as a whole.
For every fan willing to buy into the myth and namecheck London Calling
as best of all-time material, there’ll also be plenty who will be disappointed when confronted with the horribly bland, uninspired MOR rock that comprises such a large volume of The Clash’s discography and their double album mission statement. Released at a time when genuine innovation and risk taking was no stranger to punk rock or the bands contemporaries in general, The Clash’s genre dabbling turns out to be shallow dilettantism at best, with the diversions into reggae, ska, rockabilly and other roots-music forms on cringe inducing tracks such as “Lover’s Rock”, Revolution Rock” and “Jimmy Jazz” coming off as homogenous and clumsy despite their diversity. With the energy of earlier work largely absent, many of the more straightforward songs are also exposed as flat and generally uninteresting compositions. Occasional successes like the pure pop of “Train in Vain” and the moody title track aren’t enough to make up for the large tracts of pedestrian rock mediocrity and yelpy sloganeering that surround them, rendering a large portion of London Calling
a tedious chore to sit through and far from a masterpiece or even good music in general.
Flawed as it may be, it’s not too difficult to see why a lot of people enjoy London Calling
and continue to over-inflate its merits; it’s safe and accessible enough to act as a gateway to the genre and probably appears unique to those who don't know any better. Alternating between limp rock and overly imitative, poorly executed genre-hopping, it still falls well short of the kind of songwriting and creativity required to make good on its ambition and reputation, making this one decidedly non-essential sacred cow.