London Calling – The Clash

Released on December 14, 1979 this double album shows a maturity in the band’s sound moving on from punk rock to a “post-punk”. It dabbles in styles such as reggae, rockabilly, ska, pop, and hard rock. Themes explored in the songs include social displacement, unemployment, racial conflict, and responsibilities of adulthood. London Calling was a top ten chart success and sold over five million copies worldwide. As a critical success it’s ranked #8 on Rolling Stone’s list of Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Jason: I had a little bit of a tough time with this album. I don’t mind The Clash’s singles but a complete, and rather long, album was a bit much.

Brad: It is long but I enjoyed it a lot.

Jason: What did you like about it?

Brad: I like that it is not just a punk album. It combines punk, early rock and roll, some blues and little bit of reggae. It is political but still a lot of fun. I also love that the sound is not perfect. It feels very natural and more like a live performance.

Jason: I was surprised that it wasn’t straight up punk. There are a few songs that are pop songs. “Train in Vain” is one of my favorite The Clash songs.

Brad: I love that song.

Jason: I think I am more familiar with their singles like “Should I Stay or Should I Go”, and “Rock the Casbah”. On here I liked “Spanish Bombs” but hated “Jimmy Jazz”.

Brad: Yeah, up until a few years ago I was mostly familiar with their greatest hits but then I got their box set for Christmas and listened to all of their albums and it was fun to explore beyond their hits. What don’t you like about “Jimmy Jazz”.

Jason: The last half where he is basically moaning and wailing and not singing and spelling and it’s just makes my ears bleed.

Brad: I kinda like it. It reminds me of 50s Rock and Roll.

Jason: Sort of. Yes, I get that influence and I do appreciate that they are mixing it up with different styles but that song is annoying. I like “Rudie Can’t Fail” but I can’t understand half of what Joe sings.

Brad: Yeah, I do think I mishear a lot of the lyrics and often I’m not sure what they’re talking about. I still sing “Spanish Bums” instead of “Spanish Bombs” even though I know it’s not right

Jason: I was singing “Spanish bums” too. I assumed it was about gutter punks from Spain. It’s like how a lot of people thought it was “Rock the catbox”

Brad: I’m not so sure A LOT of people thought it was “catbox”

Jason: Yeah, I think it was just one former co-worker of ours. From my initial limited experience with them in high school I really thought they were a pop band. Listen to “Train in Vain” or “Rock the Casbah” or “Should I Stay…” with that in mind. 

Brad: Maybe. I don’t think those songs are pop but they got played a lot so maybe they were universally enjoyable?

Jason: That makes sense. They managed to mature and transition away from traditional punk but not lose their fans. I think because they still have their punk roots but with a twist. For me The Clash is more of a Greatest Hits band.

Brad: Fair enough. They were only together a decade and released 6 albums. So I would totally advocate that people listen to their entire catalog. It is a fun journey.

Jason: Wait. I’m on wikipedia and I didn’t know that Mick founded Big Audio Dynamite!

Brad: You didn’t?! I love Big Audio Dynamite. Especially, their album The Globe and it samples The Clash.

Jason: Oh, it TOTALLY does sample The Clash. I never put that together.

Brad: And it samples Lionel Ritchie.

Jason: What? When?

Brad: The little jungle beat in All Night Long.

Jason: That’s amazing. New respect for Mick Jones. Gosh, BAD II’s “The Globe” is 100% college for me. Weird memories. I also didn’t know Joe died 17 years ago. I guess The Clash wasn’t really on my radar. Maybe I did know he died but I forgot.

Brad: I remember when he died. It is a bummer because I always thought they might do a reunion tour or something but that never happened. 

Jason: Wait. This is jogging my memory because I recall you listening to their entire catalog at the time and I remember thinking “I need a break from them.”

Brad: They’re whole catalog is good.

Jason: They were very influential. A lot of bands cite them as musicians that inspired them to play music.

Brad: Yeah, they still get mentioned a lot in interviews with newer bands. They are definitely a band where I wish I could go back in a time machine and experience them live in concert.

Jason: I have a feeling you are going to rate London Calling higher than me.

Brad: I am sure I will. What’s your grade?

Jason: Hmmm…. I am struggling with this because I appreciate their musicality, their influence, their talent but it’s not really for Jasons. So… B-.

Brad: I’m torn between an A- and a B+ but I’m leaning towards A-.

Jason: Not too different. I am just excited to talk about our NEXT album. Very different from The Clash but just as influential.

Brad: I’m super excited for that one too!

Jason: Honey I know, I know, I know!

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Below is the scratch-off artwork from the 100 Bucket List poster.

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