The Bloody Classics - The Clash

The Clash London Calling, 1979, CBS

Track List

  1. London Calling

  2. Brand New Cadillac

  3. Jimmy Jazz

  4. Hateful

  5. Rudie Can’t Fail

  6. Spanish Bombs

  7. The Right Profile

  8. Lost in the Supermarket

  9. Clampdown

  10. The Guns of Brixton

  11. Wrong ‘Em Boyo

  12. Death or Glory

  13. Koka Kola

  14. The Card Cheat

  15. Lover’s Rock

  16. Four Horsemen

  17. I’m Not Down

  18. Revolution Rock

  19. Train in Vain

Well, we’ve finally reached the end of 1979, so it’s only right to end this bleak year and decade on the same high point that it really ended, with one of the best rock albums ever made. Now, contrarian that I am I did think about offering you Give ‘Em Enough Rope as my Clash album (and it is a good album, despite the way it was produced) but as a punk fan and a Londoner, I really couldn’t in good conscience have given you anything else but the classic London Calling.

Formed in London in 1976, The Clash may not truly have been the only band that mattered but they were an integral part of the punk scene from the start. Joe Strummer and Mick Jones shared guitar and vocals, Paul Simonon played bass and Nicky Headon was on the drums. London Calling was their third album, released in December 1979. Displaying a much wider range of musical styles than their first two punk albums it was commercially successful, reaching Number 9 in the UK chart. It also did well in other countries, eventually being certified platinum in the US. It’s slightly later US release date allowed Rolling Stone magazine to legitimately dub it the best album of the 1980s.

The cover art, considered one of the most iconic album covers of all time is a photo of Paul Simonon smashing his guitar on stage at The Palladium in New York City in September 1979 in frustration at concert security not allowing fans to stand up during the show (a problem that seems to persist at some American venues to this day). The font and text are lifted straight from Elvis Presley’s debut album (or they are an homage, you decide). The (never fully realised) idea being that Elvis’ album was the start of rock and roll and this was the end of it. The album cover was even included on a stamp issued by the Royal Mail in 2010, and once you’re on a stamp you know you’ve really made it.

The Clash’s music was always very reflective of their left wing politics and they practised what they sang about by keeping concert ticket and album prices low to try to offer their fans value for money. Although CBS wouldn’t allow them to price London Calling quite as low as they wanted, it’s fair to say that such a lengthy slice of musical brilliance was worth every penny.