The Clash - London Calling
Epic  (1989)
Pop Rock, Punk

Dans la collection

CD    19 tracks  (64:59) 
   01   London Calling       Song Review by Donald A. Guarisco
After suffering a bit of a sophomore slump with 1978's Give 'Em Enough Rope, the Clash returned with a vengeance on the classic London Calling. This exuberant and complex double album found the group delivering ambitious music with total energy and conviction, a mandate that is firmly laid down with the album-opening title track. The lyrics read like a call to order for all post-punk generation rockers, complete with couplets like "London calling to the imitation zone/Forget it, brother, you can go it alone." They also use imagery like "The ice age is coming/The sun's zooming in" to create an apocalyptic feel. However, the songwriters were clever enough to keep things from getting too overwrought by working in occasional witty moments like "London calling to the zombies of death/Quit holding out and draw another breath." The music behind these sentiments has a hypnotic sense of drive, foregoing the usual verse-chorus structure in favor of a circular melody that allows the lyrics to take center stage and utilizes a mesmerizing descending-note motif to underline the oft-repeated title phrase. The Clash's recording of "London Calling" cleverly crossbreeds anthemic hard rock with reggae by juxtaposing slashing, staccato guitar riffs with an undulating rhythm section beat as Strummer lays down a snarling vocal that delivers the lyrics with a combination of passion and fervor. All these elements made "London Calling" a witty but powerful manifesto for post-punk rock & roll and its thorough excellence makes it easy to wonder why critics and fans alike consider London Calling to be both the Clash's finest hour and one of the greatest rock albums of the 1980s.
   02   Brand New Cadillac             02:08
   03   Jimmy Jazz             03:54
   04   Hateful             02:44
   05   Rudie Can't Fail       Song Review by Donald A. Guarisco
One thing that always set the Clash apart from the rest of the British punk rock pack was their ability to perform reggae-styled material in an authentic and stylish matter. They used this skill to great effect on their highly varied London Calling album, often crossbreeding it with other musical styles to give it a twist. A good example is "Rudie Can't Fail," an exuberant horn-driven number that mixes pop and soul elements in to spice up its predominantly reggae sound. "Rudie Can't Fail" stays in the social commentary tradition of reggae as it pays tribute to the "rude boys" who challenged the status quo of their elders during the 1960s. The lyrics chronicle the travails of a fun-loving young man who is criticized for his inability to act like a responsible adult: his elders constantly hound for being "so crude and feckless" but he calmly responds "I know that my life make you nervous/But I tell you I can't live my life in service." The music mixes reggae and pop elements by marrying a melody with a percolating, rhythmic feel to a tight song structure that keeps things concise in the best pop tradition. The Clash's recording of "Rudie Can't Fail" is a high-spirited delight: it leaps out of the gate with an effects-drenched guitar riff then adds staccato horns and a hard-grooving bass line while Joe Strummer and Mick Jones trade lead vocals and harmonize in an energetic fashion. It is a beautiful mixture of high energy and genre bending and this combination makes "Rudie Can't Fail" one of the enduring high-points of London Calling.
   06   Spanish Bombs       Song Review by Donald A. Guarisco
London Calling was widely praised for successfully broadening the Clash’s musical boundaries but it is important to note that it also found the group broadening their lyrical concerns from a local to a global level. A great example of this growth is "Spanish Bombs," a rousing rocker with a Spanish-themed political bent. The rich, visual lyrics of this song divide their time between strong images like "bullet holes in the cemetery walls" and passages that pay tribute to the revolutionaries of Spain’s past ("The hillsides ring with ‘free the people/Or can I hear the echo from the days of ‘39?"). The music behind this complex scenario pursues a straightforward with simple but catchy verses and chorus that hypnotically ebb and flow from peak to valley and back again. The result is simple enough to allow the lyrics to take center stage but melodically strong enough to stick in the memory. The Clash’s recording applies maximum energy to the song, layering a combination of languid power chords and quickly-strummed acoustic riffs over a throbbing rhythm section anchored by Paul Simonon’s percolating bassline. Mick Jones and Joe Strummer top it off with rousing unison vocals that provide a perfect finishing touch for this bracing rocker. This combination of thoughtful lyrics and an energetic performance made "Spanish Bombs" a highlight of London Calling and it remains a favorite with Clash fans today.
   07   The Right Profile             03:54
   08   Lost in the Supermarket       Song Review by Donald A. Guarisco
Despite the take-no-prisoners rhetoric of songs like "I’m So Bored With The U.S.A." and "1977," other songs in the Clash catalog they could put forth their social critiques with a surprising amount of sensitivity. One of the finest examples is "Lost In The Supermarket," a song that skillfully satirizes the mundane nature of civilized city life without ever losing sympathy for the people who live it. The lyrics of "Lost In The Supermarket" focus on a sad soul who claims "I wasn’t born so much as I fell out" and leads a solitary, flat-dwelling life where "The kids in the hall and the pipes in the wall/Make me noises for company." It shows flashes of satirical wit when he describes his consumerist obsessions ("I’m all tuned in, I see all the programmes/I save coupons from packets of tea") but never forgets to reveal the loneliness at the heart of his drone-like existence: "Long distance callers make long distance phone calls/And the silence makes me lonely." The music provides a gentle contrast to this sad scenario by building the melody on a combination of and rhythmic but tuneful verses and a percolating chorus. The Clash’s recording of "Lost In The Supermarket" builds itself on a bubbling bass line from Paul Simonon and adds mellow guitar riffs and light but fast-paced drumwork to flesh the sound out. The result throbs with energy without ever becoming loud or raucous, thus providing a perfect backdrop for a subtle but heartfelt vocal from Mick Jones that nails the song’s air of quiet desperation. "Lost In The Supermarket" was never released as a single but it stood out to fans and critics alike as one of the finest songs on London Calling, which says a lot since that album is brimming with great songs. It remains a serious favorite with Clash fans today and one of their finest lyrical achievements.
   09   Clampdown       Song Review by Donald A. Guarisco
Despite some excursions into slick pop, disco, and reggae, the majority of London Calling was defined by the kind of bracing, punk-tinged rock and roll that had made the Clash famous. One of its best moments in the ‘rocker’ arena was "Clampdown," a social critique that was singled out by fans and critics alike as one of the best moments on London Calling. The lyrics take aim at people who forsake the idealism of youth to become part of a cold, heartless ‘adult world’ (i.e.: "the clampdown") and urge young people to fight the status quo: "You don’t owe nothing, so boy, get running/It’s the best years of your life they want to steal." The music avoids the typical verse-chorus structure of a pop song in favor of militaristic march style where staccato musical phrases are interspersed with a hypnotic chant of "working for the clampdown." The Clash’s recording of "Clampdown" brings the fiery passion of the lyrics to life with a full-throttle rock attack: Joe Strummer spits out the lyrics in a truly feral style while Mick Jones lays down anthemic guitar riffs and the rhythm section keeps things moving relentlessly forward with a double-time beat. The end result is song that works both as a fiery rocker and an impassioned slice of social commentary.
   10   The Guns of Brixton       Song Review by Rick Anderson
In 1990, Rolling Stone pronounced London Calling the best album of the 1980s, and that pronouncement was not very controversial. By 1980 the Clash had become more than just elder statesmen of punk rock; they were pros whose influences stretched far and wide and included ska, reggae, jazz, and even Latin American styles, and they invoked all of them on this two-LP set. As Village Voice critic Robert Christgau put it at the time, "Here's where they start showing off." No song on London Calling (or on any previous album) demonstrated their mastery of reggae as effectively as "Guns of Brixton" did. The Clash had played reggae tunes before, of course - the band's debut included a cover of the Junior Murvin classic "Police and Thieves" as well as an original entitled "White Man in Hammersmith Palais." But both of those were punk songs with reggae roots. "Guns of Brixton" is built from the ground up as a reggae song. Based on Paul Simenon's loping, minor-key bass line, it evokes the "dread" style of late-'70s Rastafarian reggae, the kind purveyed by Yabby You and Culture. Topper Headon's drum style is, interestingly, more rock than reggae, but the combination of Simenon's bass and the elastic rocksteady rhythm guitar parts - not to mention the urban menace in the lyrics - give "Guns of Brixton" a flavor that has far more to do with traditional roots reggae than with punk rock. Following the song's inclusion in The Story of the Clash box set, Epic released a four-track EP titled Return to Brixton, which featured the song in its original version along with three remixes.
   11   Wrong 'Em Boyo             03:10
   12   Death or Glory       Song Review by Rick Anderson
About halfway through the Clash's masterful London Calling album comes this glorious slab of cathartic rock & roll. The song's theme and central message is sounded with the first couplet: "Every cheap hood strikes a bargain with the world/And ends up making payments on a sofa or a girl." "Death or Glory" proceeds to tweak the previous generation of rock stars that had sworn to die before they got old. With "Death or Glory," Joe Strummer and Mick Jones proclaim their comfort with the idea of coming to terms with the world and turn the song into the first-ever punk paean to maturity. What makes it work, though, isn't the message as much as the medium; this song features the best and most satisfying chord progression and melody the Clash ever came up with. In its place at the center of the ambitious and highly variegated London Calling, it had the effect of a palate-cleansing sorbet in the middle of a multi-course dinner.
   13   Koka Kola             01:47
   14   The Card Cheat       Song Review by Donald A. Guarisco
On London Calling, the Clash wisely used the expansive amount of time offered by a double album’s length to push their punkish new-wave sound into new territories. One of its most successful experiments was "The Card Cheat," a dramatic song that allowed the group to show off their knowledge of 1960's pop techniques. Some say the song’s premise, an account of the last moments of card shark whose luck has run out, is an allegory about the decline of the British Empire. No matter what the inspiration may be, the lyrics make a powerful commentary on the regrets that come with a life of deceit: "If he only had time to tell of all of the things he planned/With a card up his sleeve, what would he achieve?/It means nothing." The music lives up to the dramatic intensity of the lyrics by pairing verse melodies that ascend at a frenetic pace with an almost operatic chorus that wrings its descending-note hooks for all the drama they can muster. The Clash’s recording of "The Card Cheat" enhances its drama by forsaking the group’s usual guitar-based sound in favor of an arrangement that is built on pounding piano chords. It also borrows its stuttered back beat from the Ronettes’ classic "Be My Baby" and works in a stately horn obligato reminiscent of the Beatles. However the churning rhythms and thick guitar chords that underpin the verses help "The Card Cheat" keep one foot in the group’s hard-driving rock style. All these touches add up to a successful fusion of the group’s hard-rocking drive and a dramatic sensibility that harkens back to the works of Phil Spector and Gene Pitney. As a result, "The Card Cheat" is one of the Clash’s most successful experiments and one of the most memorable moments on London Calling.
   15   Lover's Rock             04:03
   16   Four Horsemen             02:55
   17   I'm Not Down             03:06
   18   Revolution Rock             05:33
   19   Train in Vain (Stand by Me)       Song Review by Bill Janovitz
Evidence of their grasp of the roots of rock & roll, on "Train in Vain" the Clash reference Robert Johnson in the title and Ben E. King in the chorus, though in the Clash song the jilted-lover protagonist bemoans "Did you stand by me/No not at all." With a funky popping guitar riff and a rootsy train whistle-like harmonica hook, the song stands as one of the most infectious and buoyant pop songs of the era. Despite being hidden - it was originally not listed on the sleeve, for the band felt it was too commercial (imagine any late-'90s " alternative" bands taking a similar stance) - "Train in Vain" cracked the Top 40 in the U.S. This was remarkable in 1980 for a so-called punk rock band. The song was literally the hidden gem of the master-stroke London Calling, which spans much of the history of rock & roll - from blues and jazz, to early rock & roll and rockabilly, to funk, ska, and reggae - all injected with a raw enthusiasm and played with an aggression that was still called punk. While Joe Strummer was often perceived as the loose cannon, politically charged raw edge of the Clash, Mick Jones was seen as its pop conscience. Of course, as with the Beatles' John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the argument is never that simple, but "Train in Vain"'s almost pure pop essence certainly throws wood on the fire. Sung with unwavering conviction by Jones, the song's irresistible melody is a memorable kiss-off anthem that now sounds at home on classic rock stations. Masters of pale pop Third Eye Blind recorded a weak sugar-coated, suburban hip-hop version in an ill-advised " tribute" on Burning London: The Clash Tribute (1999), which is almost a disaster from start to finish. On the other hand, on her 1995 album Medusa, Annie Lennox manages to pull off what Third Eye Blind seemed to be attempting: a soulful, dance-beat cover of the song. The differences are that Lennox can actually sing and the production and arrangement are thought-out and well-crafted. In addition, Dwight Yoakam turns in a fine, countrified rendition on Under the Covers (1997).
Date de sortie originale 14/12/1979
Numéro Cat. 4953472
Emballage Jewel Case
Audio Stereo
User Defined
Reference No C-00012
Piano Joe Strummer
Piano Mick Jones
Bass Guitar Paul Simonon
Drums and Percussion Topper Headon
Parolier Clive Alphanso; D. Ray; J. Edwards
Producteur Guy Stevens; Mick Jones
Ingénieur du son Bill Price
Crédit Utilisateur 1 Jerry Green
À côté des chansons punk rock de l'album sont également présents des morceaux dans des styles plus divers que les albums précédents du groupe (rockabilly, pop, reggae, ska). Cet album est considéré comme un incontournable de la musique populaire par la majorité de la critique, et des morceaux tels que Train In Vain, Clampdown, London Calling, Guns Of Brixton refont encore aujourd'hui régulièrement surface à la radio.
Les paroles de l'album sont engagées et font allusion à des thèmes très différents : le punk rock comme effet de mode, la dépendance à la drogue, une légende de la folk américaine (Stagger Lee), le développement des politiques libérales sous Margaret Thatcher, la guerre d'Espagne, les émeutes raciales en Angleterre, etc.
Par ailleurs, le groupe a abandonné ses droits sur les 200 000 premiers albums vendus, afin d'en faire baisser le prix de vente.
La pochette, une imitation de celle du premier album d'Elvis Presley, est une photographie de Pennie Smith (réprésentant Paul Simonon fracassant sa basse sur scène). La photographie a été élue meilleure photographie de rock and roll de tous les temps par Q magazine, bien que Smith ne voulait pas voir cette photo utilisée, la considérant comme mal cadrée (puisqu'au moment de prendre la photo, elle reculait pour éviter la basse de Simonon).
L'album London Calling a été désigné meilleur album des années 1980 par le magazine américain Rolling Stone, en 2000. En mars 2004, l'hebdomadaire culturel français Télérama l'a désigné comme le meilleur album rock des cinquante dernières années. Il est à noter que cet album est systématiquement cité en référence dans les ouvrages sur le rock comme si il en constituait une figure emblématique.

Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Give 'Em Enough Rope, for all of its many attributes, was essentially a holding pattern for the Clash, but the double-album London Calling is a remarkable leap forward, incorporating the punk aesthetic into rock & roll mythology and roots music. Before, the Clash had experimented with reggae, but that was no preparation for the dizzying array of styles on London Calling. There's punk and reggae, but there's also rockabilly, ska, New Orleans R&B, pop, lounge jazz, and hard rock; and while the record isn't tied together by a specific theme, its eclecticism and anthemic punk function as a rallying call. While many of the songs - particularly "London Calling," "Spanish Bombs," and "The Guns of Brixton" - are explicitly political, by acknowledging no boundaries the music itself is political and revolutionary. But it is also invigorating, rocking harder and with more purpose than most albums, let alone double albums. Over the course of the record, Joe Strummer and Mick Jones (and Paul Simonon, who wrote "The Guns of Brixton") explore their familiar themes of working-class rebellion and antiestablishment rants, but they also tie them in to old rock & roll traditions and myths, whether it's rockabilly greasers or "Stagger Lee," as well as mavericks like doomed actor Montgomery Clift. The result is a stunning statement of purpose and one of the greatest rock & roll albums ever recorded. [In 2000 Columbia/Legacy reissued and remastered London Calling.