The Rewind Button: London Calling by The Clash

(The Rewind Button is a group blogging project.  Every Thursday, we review an album from Rolling Stone’s Greatest Albums list.) 

London Calling by The Clash

Before I talk about the music, let’s take a moment to admire the cover. That’s Paul Gustave Simonon, the bass guitarist for the band. It was 1979 and he was caught smashing his instrument by Pennie Smith.

That moment is the perfect point to start this review. I had mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to hear some rock music. I got what I wanted with the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street and again this week with the Clash.

Most of us know Rock the Casbah from Combat Rock but it’s London Calling that I think really showcases the band. The album is heavily blues and ska oriented giving it a good, solid rock sound, a shift from the punk sounds of the two previous albums.

Of course, there’s London Calling which deals with some unpleasant issues developing in Britian. Margaret Thatcher was the the new prime minister and had inherited (and caused, depending on who you read) a multitude of civic problems.

That’s the ongoing theme of this album. Yeah, there are good riffs but the songs do deal with some heavy, heavy stuff.

London Calling seems to be the tune that everyone remembers from this album, it even shows up in a Bond film, the really stupid one, Die Another Day.

It was also recently used in the countdown to the 2012 London Olympic games. Um, a little odd considering the apocalyptic nature of the song.

My favourite is Train in Vain. It’s been described as a love song by the band though I can’t really see it as one.

My point to all this rambling is that, well, I’m always going to see The Clash as a scrappy band with working class roots that make it gritty, authentic and rough. Perfect listening. I would (and do) listen to this album again.

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(Updated as published)

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