The age of the British Invasion was as dead as disco by the time that The Clash hit the scene in 1979 with their radio-friendly, but still wonderfully crafted gift of London Calling. Through the third-studio album, The Clash was able to establish themselves as a global wrecking crew that worked to deeply root the punk overcoat with the approachable and distinct lack of genre that made London Calling one of the greatest records of all time.
While the first introduction of the self-titled track “London Calling” might appear as an establishment of the rock-heavy style of marching riffs and a screaming Joe Strummer who would also work the rhythm guitar and piano. Mick Jones who also produced the record lead the band on the guitar, piano, harmonica, and of course the vocal performances. With Paul Simonon on the bass and also star of the cover, smashing his iconic fender bass against the ground in New York. Finally, there was Topper Headon on the percussion with an all-star role of being able to control this flexing muscle of The Clash.
As London Calling begins to spread a wider wingspan and as the different influences start to flood onto the listener; it is incredibly apparent that The Clash drew from a wealth of knowledge and tried to make a real powerhouse of an album. The double record not only reaches over an hour in length, but the 19-total tracks are surprisingly never cumbersome or show any case of becoming drab. Each progression throughout London Calling acts as a treat with “Lost in the Supermarket” or “Clampdown”, two entirely different tracks with a similar backbone that shows the versatility of The Clash.
A Rulers song opens the second half of London Calling where “Wrong ‘Em Boyo” where the chorus explains, “You lie, steal, cheat and deceit in such a small, small game” as the backing vocals try in a barber quartet fashion to deliver “Don’t cha know it is wrong?”. For a track that touches such a volatile subject matter, The Clash manage to make the instrumentation become a blast that demands some movement that can replicate a sense of dancing ability. And that is the style for most of London Calling, the band is able to describe the ugliness of racial tension, classism, drug abuse, and possibly even fascism under the guise of an approachable delivery and uplifting harmonic instruments.
One of the first records that changed the way music was viewed, London Calling has forever and will forever live on for the way that The Clash was able to craft something from nothing. A craft of true love, London Calling shows craftsmanship behind the 19-track behemoth of beauty and expression.