The Clash – London Calling (1979)
I don’t get it.
At least, that’s what I was probably saying about The Clash up until semi-recently.
For whatever reason, radio stations often insist on playing the same song or two by a group. Ad nauseam. As maintaining listener attention is the name of the game (and many listeners have the knee-jerk reaction to change stations upon hearing an unfamiliar song), I do see why the playlists are fairly repetitive. It just encourages people like me to bypass the radio altogether in favour of full albums.
Not owning any Clash records, I understood they were considered a hugely influential band and from their frequently played single, I knew they seemed to spend a great deal of time mulling over the decision as to whether to stay or go.
After immersing in this particular album, I get it now, I’m a fan. In fact, I have been so enamored with this record that I have been struggling to move on to other albums from the list. My albums per year pace is dropping off dramatically!
The iconic cover may be epitome of punk. It is also entirely misleading: London Calling has more in common with the self-titled Elvis Presley album it knowingly references.
Good luck categorizing this one, as just about every possible style is explored somewhere over the course of the four sides.
What I especially appreciate about this double is that it doesn’t peak early. If I had to rank the four sides of the double LP, I’d say:
4. Side Two – it features my favourite song (Spanish Bombs) and it is largely due to the strength of the rest that it ended up in fourth place.
3. Side Three – The shortest side but no shortage of strength, the nice brass on The Card Cheat being a standout.
2. Side One – London Calling is an excellent song but the title track might not even be in my top 5 songs from the record. Rudie Can’t Fail would crack the top 3.
1. Side Four – Great segue between Four Horsemen & I’m Not Down and the pleasant surprise hearing Train in Vain to round out the set. Surprising, as it was unlisted on both my cassette and LP copies. From what I gather, the song was added to the track-listing after the art had already been sent to the printers. Though I’d imagine casual fans wouldn’t recognize the song by name anyways – I’d wager many people out there believe the song is called Stand By Me.
Great stuff – early contender for top album of the 70s. Or 80s, depending on if we’re talking about the UK or US release dates!