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 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 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 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.
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.
on 9 September 2013
Yes, it's a classic album. It deserves that status, no question. So there's little point in discussing the finer points of the art contained herein. What IS important is the remastering. Is it worth it? Well, the first couple of seconds into the album and the answer is blindingly obvious. A big fat yes. In stereo! Whereas the 1999 remasters were a marked improvement on the original issues, this new mastering is mammoth leap forward from the 1999 issues. And that's probably an understatement! Not only is the sound much deeper, it is also incredibly detailed with the each part of the mix so much more pronounced. The soundstage seems to be a lot wider and there's a real warmness to the sound. No sacrifice of dynamics to obtain loudness and no intrusive digital equalisation. The sound really breathes and it just begs you to turn it up. In doing so you are rewarded with the most amazing clarity and detail. I'm amazed that this much information could be extracted from the master tapes. This is vinyl sound but from a CD. Believe it.
Always been a fan of Tim Young's mastering since his days of vinyl cutting at CBS. I guess he may have even mastered a Clash LP or two back in the day. His respect for the music and for the listener is clear. The end result is a lesson in how music should be mastered and how much more rewarding it is to listen to when that objective is achieved. This man deserves an award. Remasters of the year, undoubtedly. Wake up, record labels - stop pointlessly and deliberately screwing up music and make it sound like this.
My recommendation - buy this. It makes the 1999 version sound like a worn out cassette.
The Clash were perhaps the very embodiment of true punk, with a far higher level of musical versatility than may have been evident to the casual observer at the time. Joe Strummer and Mick Jones made a formidable songwriting partnership, with both immediacy and depth, and assimilated a huge range of musical influences. They were one of the few collection of musicians without Jamaican origins who could successfully play reggae, or their own punkish re-modelling of reggae, without sounding like an insipid imitation. As well as their own reggae or rasta-inspired Rudie Can't Fail and Jimmy Jazz, its influence is throughout and there are two reggae tunes, Danny Ray's Get Up (as Revolution Rock) and the Rulers' Wrong 'Em Boyo, which begins with a snatch of Johnny Otis' Staggerlee And Billy, just as the Rulers version did.
They also cover Vince Taylor's rockabilly classic Brand New Cadillac. When Joe Strummer later sang with the Pogues in place of the ailing Shane MacGowan, it made perfect sense because of the impassioned folk-a-billy sensibilities also inherent in the Clash's music.
The name London Calling comes from the call sign of the BBC's 2LO radio news bulletin, dating from 1922, and is apposite as the band send their own front-line bulletins around the globe half-a-century later. The call sign was retained by the World Service, for whom Joe Strummer was later to present record programmes right up to his untimely death.
The title song was a single in the UK, though in the USA it became the flip of Train In Vain (Stand By Me). Astonishingly, the dazzling Train In Vain was originally written and recorded to be a free cover-mounted single for the New Musical Express, and appeared on the album as a last-minute undocumented extra track when that didn't happen.
The double-album London Calling is an enduring masterpiece, though some of its sonic subtleties were lost in the original vinyl mastering, and far from being locked in a seventies time warp, the record sounds valid and meaningful today.
The original re-mastered CD rectified many of the vinyl shortcomings, bringing out parts of the musical palette that had previously sounded dull, and this new re-master is at least its equal, and often superior. It also sounds leaner, as the 3-second pauses between the tracks have been excised, hence the abbreviated running time.
The Vanilla tapes are demos recorded at a rehearsal studio in Pimlico, made in the final month before album recording proper got underway at Wessex in July 1979. Believed lost for many years they acquired legendary status, partly because Joe Strummer had at one time intimated that the demos might actually become the album, though this was mostly gamesmanship with the record label, as the sound quality is not of a releasable quality for that purpose. It is are a fascinating document of a series of songs in development, though; valuable to those with a serious interest in the band. I imagine it is disc one that will find its way back to my CD tray most frequently, but it is of course nice to have, along with the booklet, a facsimile of the original album insert and a bonus DVD, in a well presented package
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.
on 14 March 2015
An undisputed masterpiece.Every track a classic.Essential listening for anyone that considers themselves a serious music fan.Buy this and Sandanista and you wont ever need to buy another record again.The Clash said it all.Makes you weep when you hear the trash music that dominates the charts these days (Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran,I am talking to you)
.Thank god I am old enough to remember when music changed the world and this is one of the records that did it.
on 2 October 2004
When I read and heard about the re-release of London Calling, with some previously unreleased material, I was keen to hear it.
Way back then, I bought LC on vinyl and was blown away. A few years back I bought a CD copy and I still love every second of this album...
BUT... The Vanilla Tapes are nothing more than a curio and freebie DVDs always leave me a bit disappointed...
If you haven't got London Calling already, or are a total completist, this might be worth a look, but otherwise just buy the ordinary CD edition (or even an old Vinyl copy!) and save yourself a few quid...
Funny. Punk was supposed to be all about fighting commercial exploitation, but this seems to be that and little more...