The Clash London Calling

75 Essential Albums – #6 – The Clash – London Calling

After over six weeks of providing a rundown of 65 albums that I believe everyone should own we come to the final 10.  In the days between now and Xmas I will give a run down of my personal take on the top 10 albums ever released.  Hopefully I have given you some thoughts as to new albums to check out and I hope that the final 10 will have you rewriting your Christmas lists and picking up a few of these brilliant albums.

The Clash – London Calling

1979’s London Calling is the third studio album The Clash. As with the Clash’s eponymous debut album It incorporates a range of styles, including punk, reggae, rockabilly, ska, rocksteady and rock.  It may be the case that ‘The Ramones‘ defined punk rock but there can be no argument that London Calling redefined the the genre.

As with the Clash’s previous album’s the subject matter included social displacement, unemployment, racial conflict and drug use.  The album was a top 10 hit in the UK and received almost universal acclaim.  It has sold over five million copies worldwide and was certified platinum in the United States.

Sputnik Music says that London calling was “where punk truly transcends its limits and a masterpiece is born.”  Mark Sutherland writing a review for the BBC said:

“If music-loving aliens land and you find yourself, at laser-point, searching for one single example of how rock is supposed to be rolled, then you are strongly advised to recommend London Calling. Because this epic double album, from its iconic sleeve to its wildly eclectic mash-up of styles, is surely the quintessential rock album.”

Now its fair to say that you might not categorise London Calling as a punk record as it is such a blend of disparate musical styles.  The mix of genres reflects the eclectic and cosmopolitan feel of the late 1970’s London music scene.  That said it still has a fiery punk spirit undercutting each and every track, and through its adaptation of foreign musical styles, the sound becomes more political and revolutionary than any punk band has sounded before.

Sputnik music finish their review of the album in a fashion that really says everything I would about this truly brilliant album and it is so perfectly summed up there is no point in my trying to better the reviewer who says:

“There’s virtually an iconic song every other track or so – the nightmarish, post-apocalyptic tension of ‘London Calling’; the sense of urgency and suffocated anger on ‘The Guns of Brixton’; the guitar pop meets political ramblings of ‘Spanish Bombs’; not to mention the delights of other grade A tracks such as the jerky ‘Rudie Can’t Fail’, the consumerist attack of ‘Lost in the Supermarket’, the metallic ‘Clampdown’, and the anthemic ‘Death or Glory’. There’s quality, vibrancy, urgency, thrills and hooks consistent throughout the entire track-list, ultimately, and when you strip away deep analysis or historical importance, this is what truly matters, and here, The Clash did nothing but nail making an enduring, influential and truly classic album – pile on top the aforementioned deeper levels present and the historic musical importance of this double LP, and we finally arrive at my humble declaration of just why all those inclusions in the upper echelons of ‘greatest ever albums’ lists make complete and utter sense. London Calling is a musical revolution, and simply one of the most stunning rock albums of all time.”

Well said sir, this encapsulates perfectly the soundtrack of many a music fan who, like me, was born in the early to mid 60’s and who claimed the punk revolution as their own.  You could sum the album up in a single word: Stunning!

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