London Calling- The Clash

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Year of release- 1979 (1980 in the US)
Label- CBS/Epic
Genre- Punk, Ska, Reggae, Pop rock
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Left to Right- Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon, and Mick Jones
Strummer: Vocals, rhythm guitar
Simonon- Bass guitar, backing vocals
Headon- Drums
Jones: Vocals, lead guitar

Track Listing:
Side 1
"London Calling"- 3:20
"Brand New Cadillac"- 2:08
"Jimmy Jazz"- 3:55
"Hateful"- 2:44

"Rudie Can't Fail"- 3:29
Side 2
"Spanish Bombs"- 3:19
"The Right Profile"- 3:55
"Lost in the Supermarket"- 3:47
"Clampdown"- 3:49
"The Guns of Brixton"- 3:10
Side 3
"Wrong 'Em Boyo"- 3:11
"Death or Glory"- 3:55
"Koka Kola"-1:48
"The Card Cheat"- 3:49
Side 4
"Lover's Rock"- 4:03
"Four Horsemen"- 2:56
"I'm Not Down"- 3:06
"Revolution Rock"- 5:33
"Train in Vain"- 3:10

Vital Statistics
"London Calling" was an album first released in 1979 (1980 in the US) by the British punk band The Clash. The album cannot truly be characterized by one genre because despite the fact that The Clash were a major punk band, it was largely influenced by reggae music, resulting in the ska-sounding songs that dominate the album. The album was popular but did not have the extreme sales that might be expected of an album ranked number eight on Rolling Stone's top 500 albums of all time list. It was certified gold in 1991 and platinum in 1996, and peaked at number 27 on the US charts (it peaked at number nine in the UK). The most popular single from the album was "Train in Vain"; it peaked at number 23 on the US charts and number nine in the UK.

´╗┐"London Calling" was a step away from punk ideals and perhaps a step towards more mainstream music for The Clash. The Clash had always been less strict of a punk band than, for instance, The Sex Pistols, whom The Clash opened for on a tour that set their career in motion. The Clash defied the rules of punk music by looking back before 1975 to bands that punk was strictly aligned against; rock and roll acts like The Rolling Stones, Mott the Hoople, and David Bowie all influenced The Clash's music. That said, The Clash will always be remembered as one of the greatest punk bands of all time, with this album being their crowning achievement.

Technical Detail
As previously stated, it is hard to place the album "London Calling" in one genre because of all the different sounds that assimilated into the album and its songs. If you had never heard the songs before and did not know they came from The Clash, you would probably say that only the title track, "London Calling", came from a punk band. The rest of the songs have a distinct ska sound; The Clash were heavily influenced by the Jamaican ska/reggae movement, and bassist Paul Simonon's passion for ska had spread to Joe Strummer.
The Clash were not initially going to record in a real studio. After their last album, "Give 'Em Enough Rope", was released, they parted ways with their manager Bernard Rhodes and moved into Vanilla Studios, located in the back of a garage in Pimlico. The band became so endeared with the dingy two-room studio that they wanted to record in addition to rehearsing there. However, their label, CBS/Epic, refused, so the band was forced to record at a proper studio. However, the Vanilla Tapes, recordings from the Vanilla Studios, were released in 2004. The band again clashed with their label when they wanted to release "London Calling" as a double-LP but CBS was against it. The two sides compromised and released the double-LP for the price of a single-LP. Hiring Guy Stevens as a producer was yet another move that CBS disapproved of. However, the band really meshed with Stevens, who at times in the studio threw chairs to excite the band.
Cultural Analysis Although their songs did not all sound like punk rock, some did have punk-themed lyrics. For instance, the song "London Calling" commented on many of the problems in the world in the late 1970's, including climate change ("The ice age is comin', the sun's zoomin' in"), oil shortages ("Engines stop runnin'"), and the nuclear reactor meltdown at 3 Mile Island in Pennsylvania that occurred just months before the album's release ("A nuclear error"). Furthermore, "Clampdown" had a typically punk message, telling young people not to lose the innocence or ideals of childhood and to fight the establishment. The Clash were one of the most influential bands of their time, influencing bands like U2, Rancid, Green Day, No Doubt, and Sublime. They were one of the original punk rock bands, along with other bands like The Sex Pistols and Generation X, and paved the way for contemporary punk bands, although the genre has changed much with time. However, The Clash too had bands they looked too for inspiration, contrary to the punk ideals of being original and independent. This is apparent from the album cover of "London Calling". The cover depicts Paul Simonon smashing his bass; the fact that the picture was in black an white and the lettering on the sides were tributes to Elvis Presley's debut album's cover.Lost in the Supermarket

"Lost in the Supermarket" is probably the best song on the album to represent The Clash's desire to become more mainstream, especially in the United States. The sound of the song is more of pop rock than punk rock or reggae. It was written by Joe Strummer, who was supposedly trying to imagine Mick Jones growing up with his grandmother.

London Calling

"London Calling", the album's title track, was not the most popular single from the album at the time, but it is now recognized as the greatest to come from this album or possibly even from The Clash. It was ranked at number 15 in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song deals with many issues not necessarily prevalent at the time, but soon to be major like oil shortages and climate change.


"Clampdown" is more of a punk song than most on this album, with the more or less generic punk theme of fighting the status quo and not losing innocence too early. It was a single from the album but despite reaching number 16 on the UK charts, it did not have much success in the US, nor does it receive much recognition today.

Conclusion´╗┐Although it was certainly not the most commercially successful album ever, it is a classic to be remembered and widely recognized as the best album made by The Clash. It has had a lasting impact on the musical world, with its influence still being felt today.
The Clash: Return of the Last Gang in Town by Marcus Gray