on 26 September 2004
What a sparkling rendition of this classic - I'm sure I've heard things in this remaster that I was completely unaware of before (unless of course, it's my imagination...) Best listened to as sequenced on original album sides (somehow makes listening more authentic if you create a playlist and play one original side at a time . . . . or are these just the dabblings of a man approaching 40 ?)
The rehearsal tapes CD included is for fans only - or people who bought this record first time out and can remember and enjoy lo-fi recordings - the recordings themselves are pretty primitive, and pretty rough - you can basically hear 'London Calling'as performed in your local gagage, or, if you jack it up loud enough, you're almost there in the post-punk melee itself.
The intimate handycam footage of the sessions themselves offers a unique insight into how this paragon was created - that, together with interviews of the band, reveal a flourishing creativity in a band truly gelling together for the most effective period in their history.
I never felt so much a-lika a singin' the blues.
Remember the scene in the film "Hi Fidelity" where Jack Black berates a customer of the record shop he works in for not having Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde". Some albums really should be available on the national cirriculum. Thus in the same vein if you do not own the Clash's "London Calling" hang your head in shame, don't speak to anyone until you get a copy and greatly worry about the sanity of the person on Amazon who describes this album as "over rated". Green Day and Fall out Boy are better than this? Oh dear your poor deluded soul, get help quick and hope that no ever finds out who you are for you will be forever mocked and subject to the cruel chiding of street urchins.
London Calling has it all, the great Elvis derived cover, the driving title track where you should seek out the Clash's video of this anthem played in sheets of black rain on the banks of the river Thames for the sheer attack that the band pounds into the song. Then there is the barnstorming cover of Vince Taylor's "Brand New Cadillac", the hidden gem that is "Train in Vain" the wonderful "Spanish bombs" and "Lost in a supermarket". Oh look stop me now since I about to go off on one and the dog needs walking. All in all probably the best British rock, punk, psychobilly, r and b and whatever you choose album of the 1970s and therefore one of the greatest albums ever. It has enough energy to power the national grid and increase global warming. Joe Strummer is one of the most missed individuals to depart the planet in recent years and sadly that long desired Clash reunion was always on a hiding to nothing. I still have great memories of a fantastic gig he did with the Pogues (he was producing "Hells Ditch" at that time) and what can only be described a a roaring "Irish" version of London Calling. Poor old Shane was on the sauce of course.
Finally if you also find yourself getting the first album you will be equally blessed, indeed "Janie Jones" is almost worth the full asking price on its own. Was it Tom Robinson who said that he bought "White Man in the Hammersmith Palais" and didn't own a record player? Whatever the case you know what he means.
on 20 March 2010
In their day they were the most vital band on the planet and hordes of young, eager fans (including myself) hung on the latest words from Joe Strummer,their iconic leader. He was the punk Che Guevara and as the initial punk spirit turned to disillusion and many of the early brand leaders faltered, the Clash bravely battled on as standard bearers for a movement. However, even on their first album, the had shown that they were interested in other musical genres (Police and Thieves) and on this album rather than dipping a toe, they dived right into a musical pool bubbling with rock, rockabilly, jazz, reggae, calypso, R and B, pop, punk you name it. The sheer variety of music on this double album is enthralling and energising. The production by Guy Stevens is top notch, bringing out the controlled power of the Clash at their best, showing off the vitality of Strummer and Jones' writing. Really, there is no looking back from the apocalyptic ringing chords of London Calling to the very last track Train In Vain. There is not a bad track, apart from perhaps Lovers Rock, and lyrically it is interesting as well, showing off the boys' obsession with left wing politics, Jamaican music, americana and old film stars. It seems churlish to pick favourites, but there's Jones' defiant vocal on I'm Not Down, the melodic beauty of Spanish Bombs, the driving force of Brand New Cadillac, the joyful and catchy Rudie Can't Fail and the cry to arms of Clampdown. And Jimmy Jazz, a cult classic - delightful, although that's not a very "Clash" word. When you are next lost in the supermarket, buy this album! But who am I kidding, you've got it already, right?
on 18 April 2009
Don't listen to all the rubbish about sold out, not stuck to their roots etc etc etc. This album is just superb, it is as fresh now as it was when originally recorded. Personally I fail to find a poor track on it, admittedly some are stronger than others, but definately no fillers here. Buy it, enjoy it, and you'll still be enjoying it for many many years to come.
on 2 December 2009
This review is for: London Calling 30th Anniversary Edition, Vinyl Replica Packaging, CD/DVD (Audio CD)
I can't really see the point of another release for this iconic album, especially when it's a far inferior version. This edition is basically the excellent 25th anniversary release minus the Vanilla Tapes (demos) CD which, whilst not everyone's cup of tea, included five unreleased songs and enough of interest to whet more than just the Clash completist's appetite. What you get here is the original album (naturally) and the same DVD as the 25th ann. edition, which includes:
1. The Last Testament: The Making of London Calling (Documentary)
2. London Calling (Video)
3. Train In Vain (Video)
4. Clampdown (Video)
5. London Calling in Wessex Studios (Home Video Footage)
There's therefore nothing new here. Five stars for the original album (read the many plaudits to it elsewhere!) but two stars for this release because we've been here before.
If there are going to be more anniversary issues, then why not the eponymous first album, Give 'Em Enough Rope and Sandinista? This is what we really want.
on 2 September 2006
This is a truely great and inspiring album. To be truthful there isn't much "punk" as such to be found on this album, this is very much the sound of '79 rather than '77. Obviously the attitude is completely punk, but the album is more of a showcase for Strummer's and Jones' songwriting and skill to adapt to any type of music. There are great reggie, ska and pop songs to be found on this album, showing a variety that many other bands of the era would not be able to acheive. This is a double album of great class, there are no filler tracks, each of the nineteen songs could have been released as singles. The production is of high quality and much easier on the ears compaired to their first album. The obvious standout song is the title track. The relentless guitar and pounding bass create a great basis for Strummer's snarl. This is all in all a good album, and confirms The Clash as one of the great bands.
There seem to be many parallels between today and the late seventies. A time of economic depression, a working class trodden down by the conscienceless political rulers and moneyed elite, ethnic tensions simmering, a generation of young people with no future prospects ready to lash out a wave of destruction in the form of riots in protest at the injustices of the world they find themselves in. And the development of a new musical form which encapsulates the passion, the anger and the political stance of the youth. OK, perhaps the similarities end there, as plastic Cowell pop seems to be the hallmark and legacy of this generation, but thirty years ago the social situation gave rise to just such a musical form, Punk. And the prime exponents were the Clash.
Their first two albums (their eponymous debut and Give `Em Enough Rope) were full of energetic, in your face shouty punk with saw tooth guitars and powerful beats, but they showed a degree of maturity and progressiveness. By the time they came to record their masterpiece, London Calling, the punk movement was largely finished, but the Clash continued due to their ability to evolve. The record still contains their hallmarks, energy, passion, a raw sound, political awareness and social stance, but now they also gave free reign to their creativity, starting to experiment with form and including outside influences, especially ska and reggae. It's an almost perfect fusion, the absolute apogee of a great band. They would never be so coherent, tight or great again. Five stars, an essential album for anyone living in England. I'd award it 6 if I could.
For some The Clash failed to excite when they left the punk movement behind after their self titled debut of fierce but very well played noise. But with punk only lasting 100 days, where could a band go from there where they clearly were not all show, but had two musical power houses in their ranks with plenty to say?
So, following the not quite so exciting 'Give 'Em ENough Rope', back came the clash with this album of contrast, quality, excitement and variety. Strummer and Jones saw punk as opening doors to the possibilities of music where some artists became trapped in the very limiting nature of the genre. On London Calling, they captured the sound of the city, a moment, a feeling and a combination of influences that had shaped their musical upbringing and that they felt represented London and how the UK was.
There's rock, reggae, ska all rolled into an album that literally has no flaws. It is one of those albums that as a dabbler or purist, you simply have to own. I'd argue that you probably need the CD or vinyl rather than the download, simply because you will want this on show. The cover itself is one of the most enigmatic ever put into print and I long for those days where the cover art was almost as important as the music held within, it formed the whole.
Anyway, I digress. There are lots of albums reviewed by fans out there, that get that 5 star rank. Yes I am a fan, but at the time I did not quite get the essence of a scene that had moved away from the scary nature of the Pistols and had morphed by then into a wondrous tapestry of sounds that spoke not only for the leather and safety pin brigade, but all of London's and British youth who wanted something that represented how they felt.
That it sounds so completely fresh even now, speaks volumes for the quality of the original work.
on 24 September 2004
A fantastic Album! Yes, one of the greatest albums of all time but although the Demos are interesting they are poor quality and disappointing. Shame really as this was the first thing I had not heard by The Clash for a good 10 years or so. Buy it for the real Album and then listen to the demos and you will still be listing to one of the Greatest Bands of all time. LISTEN!!!
on 20 September 2004
London Calling was one of my first purchases as a young teenager many years ago...which was a long time ago:-).. It sounded great then, just as it does today, brilliant production, every song is just as good as the one before as you go through the playlist and in my eyes, the best Clash album of all time.
The demo cd is just that, so dont expect anything too fancy. It is what it is, a pre album demo with some interesting takes of the songs at the early stage of composition. Some takes don't have vocals, some do, but above all, still amazing to listen to after all these years and the unreleased songs are more intersting than you could forsee.
The DVD is a bit hit and miss. The interviews were from the same session as "Westway to the world", but leaning towards the london calling era, that I am sure wasn't on the afore mentioned Westway DVD.
The black and white studio footage is priceless, with Guy Stevens shown getting up to his jinks such as throwing chairs and swinging ladders about in the live room, but it doesn't really feature the band actually doing much other than jamming for 13 minutes and joe doing a vocal take.
Live Features; "Clampdown" (complete song), Train in vain and the London Calling promo video.
5 stars for the original album, it would be four stars for the extra material to be honest, but definitly worth the money overall.