Happy 35th Anniversary to The Clashs London Calling, originally released December 14, 1979.
Arguably the quintessential musical portrait of late 20th century urban life in London, The Clashs third album is a thrilling kaleidoscope of varied sounds and styles, from punk to rock to ska to reggae to jazz and pop. In theory, blending such a motley mixture of musical ingredients into one stew may seem like a recipe for a hodge-podge disaster of an album. But in this case, the bands ambition and experimentation that extended well beyond their punk rock pedigree pays off in a big way. The double-album never sounds cobbled together or disjointed, instead its one of the most cohesive and invigorating listening experiences youll ever lay your ears on.
Collectively, the Joe Strummer and Mick Jones penned compositions (save for bassist Paul Simonons sole songwriting credit on The Guns of Brixton) offer poignant perspective into the social, racial, economic and political agitation that pervaded London as the metropolis approached the new decade of the 80s. But while London is the thematic inspiration, the common threads of urban disenchantment, class divide and distrust of authority are universal phenomena, which is largely why the album still to this day is so broadly accessible and appealing.
Completing the whole package is the iconic cover art, which embodies the bands passion & ferocity, manifested in the form of Simonon slamming his bass guitar on stage at New York Citys Palladium a few months prior to the albums release. What some may not know is that the cover design and specifically the perpendicular pink and green type also serves as an homage of sorts to the cover art of Elvis Presleys self-titled debut album.
No small wonder that London Calling is frequently cited as one of the greatest albums ever made, by music critics and fans alike. From the first to last song, its simply a brilliantly executed record that warrants all of the acclaim and then some.
My Favorite Song: The Guns of Brixton
“London Calling” (1979)
“Train in Vain” (Live at Lewisham Odeon) (1980)