No other band has ever stood out more to me than The Clash. Especially their 1979 classic punk album, “London Calling.” The Clash consisted of four English punks signed to CBS records in 1977 after playing very few shows and little to no actual headlining gigs. They soon would become one of, or maybe, the most influential punk bands of all time.
“London Calling” was the band’s break out album. Released as a double LP, the 19 track album was a critically acclaimed. The title track “London Calling” has now sold over 5 million copies and the Rolling Stone Magazine ranked the album at number 8 in their “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”
The album was written by two of the founding members, Mick Jones and Joe Strummer, aside from one song (Guns of Brixton) written by the bassist, Paul Simonon. Strummer was the main writer on the album, writing 11 songs off the album on his own and three collaboration songs with Jones. Jones also wrote four songs on his own.
The album isn’t just another punk album. It is actually considered a post-punk album. Meaning behind the punk sounds there influences that can be heard ranging from R&B to reggae to jazz and to ska. The songs on this album retain that punk rock back bone, but the musicianship and intelligence behind the album is what captivated me all those years ago and even more so today.
Every song off of “London Calling” is amazing, there isn’t one miss on it. The songs that stand out the most to me are: London Calling, Jimmie Jazz, and Spanish Bombs.
I remember the first time that I heard the song “London Calling.” My Father called me down the stairs and made me listen to it. From the first note I was interested. The guitar comes in first and immediately you hear this distorted creepy sounding guitar. In short you hear the musical influence of London.
When the bass kicked in I was completely indulged in the song. The sliding and notes that were hit on the bass had an edge I have never heard or felt before. It had this anger feeling to it. However at the same time it was something I could not get enough of. The amount of times I play that song just because the intro is stuck in my head is insane.
“Jimmy Jazz” wasn’t one of my favorites until I was older and had to the patients to actually listen to it. At first I thought it was just a slow jazz sounding song.
The song starts out with a simple beat with a one of the band members whistling. As the song goes on you hear the jazz stay with the bass line, but the rest of the song transforms into ska. This happens when the horns kick in and Jones’ voice starts to take on a new personality. The lyrics in the song also keep the punk back bone with lines like this:
“Satta Massagana for Jimmy Dread. Cut off his ears and chop off his head. Police come look for Jimmy Jazz.”
The song I have loved from the second I heard it is “Spanish Bombs.” This is the song that I believe shows their musical and lyrical talent the most. This can be seen in the chorus when they start singing in Spanish.
“Spanish Bombs. Yo t’quierro y finito, yo te querda, oh ma côrazon.”
This line translate to “I want you forever, I want you, Oh my heart.” For them to create a catchy chorus outside of their own language really shows how talented this band was.
Along with the song’s lyrics, the musical side also is fantastic. The song drives hard but has this chill aspect that is hard to explain and cannot be found in any other song.
The Clash is a monumental band that can never be recreated or touched ever again. The album “London Calling” still gives me a massive jolt of energy whenever I listen to it. The album implores you to dive deep into their music and into the true meaning of punk rock.
Cameron Campbell is a opinion writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]