London Calling – The Clash

One week ago in music history, in the year 1979, The Clash released their third studio album London Calling. Their sound is built upon punk rock, but they do a little bit of exploring on this 19 track behemoth of an album. They dive headfirst into new genres like reggae, New Orleans R&B, and jazz with surprising ease. Great album, great group, let’s take a look.

The Vocals:

Joe Strummer, the rhythm guitarist if you couldn’t tell by the name, has a voice that I could only characterize as interesting, or unique, perhaps unusual. It’s definitely not good, but certainly not bad. Overall he gets the job done, and he might miss a few notes here and there, but that’s punk. For an album scattered all over the map in terms of genre, Strummer’s voice keeps on reminding you that these guys are a punk rock outfit.

The Instrumentals:

Just crazy. The most notable contribution that I need to point out is Paul Simonon and his bass guitar. He really takes that bass line for a walk throughout the album, showing a lot of versatility on the reggae offerings like “Revolution Rock” or “Wrong ‘Em Boyo”. Also noteworthy is Topper Headon on drums. The drums are very busy on this album, and it’s what makes the whole record so lively, and it’s one of the things that makes The Clash…The Clash. Mick Jones does some cool stuff on lead guitar as well, as the solid rhythm foundation he has to work with really allow him to mess around a bit. Might as well also mention that there’s some hot steamy sax on a few of these tracks, although I wasn’t able to find out who was responsible for it.

The X-Factor:

The range of genres they cover on this record is really what sets it apart in my opinion. It begins with the title track “London Calling”, a thunderous rock song that’s exactly what you’d expect from these guys. It’s a fastball right down the middle. Next track they throw a curveball, doing a cover of Vince Taylor’s surf-rock classic “Brand New Cadillac”. They touch on reggae dub “Rudie Can’t Fail”, pop on “Spanish Bombs”, experimental on “The Guns of Brixton”, a Billy Joel-esque ballad on “The Card Cheat”, ska on “Revolution Rock”, and so on for 19 tracks that make for a packed hour and five minutes. They took a lot of risks here and, in my opinion, they really nailed it.

The Essentials:

“London Calling”, “Rudie Can’t Fail”, “Revolution Rock”, and “Train in Vain”

The Rating:

This album is a pure masterpiece any way you look at it. It’s gotta be a…

9.1

Definitely worth a listen or six. Happy Friday, and keep is classic.

-Drew

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