The Clash

London Calling  Hear it Now

RS: 5of 5 Stars Average User Rating: 4.5of 5 Stars


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In 1979, London Calling was sold with a sticker declaring that the Clash were the only band that matters, and they acted as if they believed their own hype. Broadcasting from the middle of the wild-eyed mess that was English punk rock, a milieu that often dismissed idealism as a liability, the band was criticized as being too serious, even too nice, while its peers, the Sex Pistols, were uniformly regarded as the real thing. Twenty-five years later, Sony has expanded this reissue of the group's third album with some raw demo recordings and a DVD of documentary films, even as the basic political nightmares the Clash ripped into on the album have expanded exponentially. Then as now, it would seem that idealism was underrated. London Calling is indeed a serious, ridiculously ambitious punk album that resonates within a largely American history of rebellion -- the lyrics invoke anti-heroes from tough-guy actor Robert Mitchum to gangsta legend Stagga Lee. It was originally underestimated as simply a bridge to reggae, classic rock & roll and pop radio.

True, "Lover's Rock" is a jubilant rush of electric guitar and piano that breathlessly evokes the tenderness of reggae without becoming reggae. And the shuddering, unforgettable "Train in Vain," which broke the band commercially in the States, is that rarest of hits: The hand claps and harmonica sound vaguely prefabricated, but Mick Jones' wounded vocal feels utterly genuine, and the tune stays with you like a black eye.

The "lost" Clash songs unearthed for this release were lost for a reason: "Heart and Mind" is an anthemic throwaway, and "Lonesome Me," had it been released, would have killed cow-punk before it was invented. But London Calling proper sounds crucial right now because of righteous blasts such as the title track, which wails like a hundred car alarms. "The Guns of Brixton" is a dread-sick skank, a reggae song that evinces punk's political violence. The most astonishing number is "Clampdown," which burns through the middle of the album with kneecap-cracking beats and a heroic three-note guitar solo. It may be the most defiant rock song ever committed to plastic. (An early version, "Working and Waiting," is also here.) Feeling resigned to another four years of the Bush administration? Listen to London Calling and flame on, brothers and sisters.


(Posted: Sep 22, 2004)


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Review 1 of 6

dnjohnston89 writes:

5of 5 Stars

It would be difficult to rate London Calling any less than 5
stars simply because it is a nearly perfect masterpiece. The
worst songs on this album would do well anywhere else. The
Clash is heard here at their best and this double album of
their best work ranks at the pinnacle of any rock oriented
double album ever including such other masterworks as Led
Zeppelin's Physical Grafitti. Definitely one of the best albums
ever, and undeniably the best of Clash. They could re-label
the album "Greatest Hits" and it would be quite accurate.

Nov 1, 2007 19:12:14

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Review 2 of 6

boogerly writes:

1of 5 Stars

They suck listen to the stooges thats real punk

Apr 25, 2007 01:00:37

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Review 3 of 6

tacobellgrindage writes:

5of 5 Stars

There is just something special about certain recordings that you know make a person the way they are. London Calling by The Clash struck my soul. Finally, this band, which included Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon, Mick Jones, and, Topper Headon, stopped trying to be The Sex Pistols. “London Calling” is more of a transition from their raw British punk sound in their eponymous debut, to their new-wave/dub sound in “Combat Rock”. As when a caterpillar starts cocooning, we knew at that point that a beautiful thing was in the making. Every song from the title track to “Train in Vain” (which almost did not make the cut), is The Clash at their peak. The band was no longer in anyone’s shadows. It was as if the world came into perfect (dis-)harmony every time a needle or a beam of light, made contact with this recording. While remaining true to their “me against the world” ways of thinking, they managed to make punk more than just thrashing around with horribly tuned instruments to get their point across. If you are beginning The Clash sold out for this, you are way off your rocker! This is one of the many reasons for the breakup of the band in 1986. There is no way anyone can conduct a review on the music on this album. A lot of people love “London Calling” and share the same feeling as I do, but I would like to find someone that hates it as well, just as long as they are touched in some way. One this is for sure: no will NEVER find this if they look in some FYE used bin.

Jan 13, 2007 23:47:28

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Review 4 of 6

studentandlovinit writes:

5of 5 Stars

In a rare, almost unique encounter with good taste, Rolling Stone has rated this the greatest album of the 80's (It was released in 79, Rolling Stone back on form), which is, in my opinion, not too far wrong. Read any of the reviews on this or probably any site for extravagent praise of a truely classic rock album and believe it, if Rolling Stone can recognise its brilliance, anyone can.

May 28, 2006 15:11:54

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Review 5 of 6

neilbusta writes:

5of 5 Stars

The mother of all 5 star albums, there's not really much that
can be said about London Calling that has already not been
stated. To state it simply, this is the greatest rock album of
all time.

The highlights of an album which is really one big highlight??
First, there's the apocalyptic title track: "London Calling"
makes you think the upcoming album might be an eco-
political diatribe, but of course you know what happens....

There's the hilarious "Jimmy Jazz". This is followed by the
even more hilarious "The Right Profile", a somewhat (I guess)
tribute to Mony Clift.

Track 9, "Clampdown" begins the greatest string of songs on
an album in history! Next is the true reggae classic "Guns of
Brixton". Then comes the ska standard "Wrong 'Em Boyo".
(This song has the best false beginning since Dylan's "115th
Dream".) This is followed by the song which contains the
crescendo of this album masterpiece, "Death or Glory".
("We're going to raise trouble...We're going to raise hell!") The
ending of this song always gives me chills.

Toward the end of LC comes the ultimate in lyrical cleverness,
"Koka Kola", a tongue-in-cheek critique of advertising execs.
Then comes the beautiful "The Card Cheat". The piano work
on this songs provides pleasant chills as well. My personal
favorite might be the third from the last track, "I'm Not
Down". (If the lyrics from this one don't pump you up when
you're feeling down, then you don't have a pulse!)

Calling closes with the fun reggae number, "Revolution Rock"
and the hidden track (and hit single) "Train in Vain", a serious
criticism of a lost love and her failure to provide support for
the subject during their relationship.

There is no album in the world that improves my mood more
this one. Doctors could save one much money, time, and
trouble by prescribing listening to London Calling rather than
giving out anti-depressants.

Feb 11, 2006 14:58:13

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Review 6 of 6

Bluemask writes:

5of 5 Stars

Put quite simply, one of the greatest albums ever. Ever.

Begining with the abjact terror of London Calling and blossoming into ska (Rudie Can't Fail), flamenco flurishes (Spanish Bombs), rigetous punk anger (Death Or Glory) and even glorious pop (Lost In The Supermarket). The second side slightly drags behind the first there are stand out tracks (noticably Guns Of Brixton, hidden track Train In Vain and the previously mentioned Death Or Glory).

This is a rare album. A band in its truest form. A landmark.

Dec 12, 2005 23:22:14

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