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London Calling

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iTunes Review

The Clash’s third album, 1979’s London Calling, is where their brilliance comes together in a 19-track tour de force that uses the energy of their punk origins and employs it in a number of new stylistic directions. Reggae-dub underlines “Rudie Can’t Fail,” “Wrong ‘Em Boyo,” “Revolution Rock,” and bassist Paul Simonon’s unnerving “The Guns of Brixton.” Rockabilly and surf chase the cover of Vince Taylor’s “Brand New Cadillac.” Genuine pop melodies support the Mick Jones-led “Spanish Bombs,” “Lost In the Supermarket,” “I’m Not Down,” and the hit-single-in-hiding “Train In Vain” (original copies of the album didn’t list it on the album sleeve). The title track remains one of the most ominous songs ever to kick off any album, never mind a double album of such consequence. And we haven’t even mentioned the brilliance of “Hateful,” “Clampdown,” “Death or Glory” or “Koka Kola.” Their self-titled debut (in both U.K. and U.S. configurations) stood for punk’s raw power and Sandinista! provided the band with enough room for pure experimentation, but London Calling splits the difference and aims for the center line. Quite simply: a masterpiece by any definition.

Customer Reviews


Still listen to this album after all these years. A defining moment in the all too short career of the only band that matters. R. I. P. Joe.


By far the most important album of its time. Shows the versatility, power, and angst of the band in full detail. Every song is great. No doubt the band's best effort, but this album will stand the test of time like Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles. Funny that lyrics to the song London Calling states - "phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust". Timely statement for sure, but classics remain timeless.

Forget ‘important’, it’s just really great.

Though not as musically sprawling as the 3 lp Sandinista which followed, London Calling was a departure from a standard punk rock sound and attitude as the Clash were beginning to play a more soulful, roots-influenced style. There is reggae, soul, funk, rockabilly, and rock all vying for attention here. After the stripped-down title track rocker this musical odyssey never looks back - with refreshing instrumentation (horns, lots of organ, piano) tastefully spicing up the place and making it a diverse and exciting listen. The social and political landscape is somewhat familiar ground: war, crime, drugs, oppression, and uprising - a social studies class packed into a pressurized vessel to pointed in a safe direction before opening. There is plenty of energy in Clampdown, Hateful, Death or Glory, as well as compassion in The Card Cheat, and Lost in the Supermarket. Though perhaps best known for the hit Train In Vain this is a musical and lyrical masterpiece full of widespread influences that has more than withstood the test of time, in fact, it has gotten better with age.


Formed: 1976 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s

The Sex Pistols may have been the first British punk rock band, but the Clash were the definitive British punk rockers. Where the Pistols were nihilistic, the Clash were fiery and idealistic, charged with righteousness and a leftist political ideology. From the outset, the band was more musically adventurous, expanding its hard rock & roll with reggae, dub, and rockabilly among other roots musics. Furthermore, they were blessed with two exceptional songwriters in Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, each...
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