If you want to know what the United Kingdom was like in 1979/1980 then just listen to London Calling by The Clash.
It’s all in there.
Of course, it’s one of the greatest rock albums ever made and it is undoubtedly The Clash’s finest hour but it is so much more…
Encompassing reggae, rockabilly, blues, ska, rock steady, rock, and jazz it is the greatest punk record ever made.
It is three years on from those tremendous three chords that changed everything but those that were there had moved on.
That was what it was all about.
It may have upset the Garry Bushells of this world but The Clash called it absolutely spot-on.
We the punks had taken all the influences before, during and soon to be later, put it all together and shouted it from the rooftops.
Janie Jones may have kicked it all off but now we were locking horns with The Card Cheat, Rudie and the Guns of Brixton.
This is The Clash on top of their game and telling it exactly as it is.
1979 going into 1980 and they are tackling the issues of the day such as unemployment, racism, crime, drugs, and bombs.
They were tribal times and The Clash saw it all. They were in the middle of it all and they documented it magnificently.
The album came out 40 years ago this December and was released 40 years after the start of World War II. The title of the album echos those wartime radio addresses while the actual title song addresses the apocalypse and London flooding,
Forty years later we can thank God that and the Thames Barrier that London didn’t flood but forty years, later right now, the apocalyptical thoughts are even more prescient.
The album was recorded in Wessex Studios in Highbury, London but it is a proper Camden Town record – in fact the tribes, trends and musical sounds can still be heard and seen around that lively part of town.
The legendary Guy Stevens produced the album; well he did when he was completely out of it (read up about it all) and what he did and how he did it remains a mystery but the sound he and the band arrived at is incredible.
It’s all in there. All the bands loves and influences.
Simonon’s love of reggae, Mick Jones Glam youth, Strummer’s political voice and Topper Headon’s jazz drumming that kicks the shit out of any other punk drummer.
The cover of the album is an iconic Elvis homage, there are the Ray Lowry doodlings and ace graphics and, of course, they are the best-dressed rock band ever to walk this earth…
As for the music: There isn’t a duff track. A double album that rocks, rolls soars and hits the fucking spot like no other.
It was an album of its time. It is an album for today.
It is an album that every aspiring rock and roll band should listen to, that every aspiring rock and roll band should look to emulate.
This is punk rock!
These are the times when we need music like this but of course times move on. Us punk rockers move on.
But give it a listen then look around because the influence of punk and The Clash is all around us.
Dig deep it’s all there. It was on the stage with Stormzy at Glastonbury. It can be heard in Nubya Garcia’s saxophone and you can hear it all in Kano’s Hoodies All Summer.
Make no mistake of it these are troubling times and we need The Clash’s London Calling and all the great musicians that walk in their shoes more than ever.
“When they kick at your front door
How you gonna come?
With your hands on your head
Or on the trigger of your gun?”