Thursday, June 7, 2007

No. 8: London Calling

Band: The Clash
Album: London Calling
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: It's probably the Clash's masterpiece and one of the best post-modern works ever, in my opinion. Totally referential, "London Calling" had elements of ska, rockabilly, straight up punk, and rock and roll. It showed the apex of Mick Jones' and Joe Strummer's songwriting talents. Politically charged, the boys take on crime, the Spanish Civil War, drug use and racial strife. This is punk rock at its best: Angry, smart and melodic. Entertainment Weekly named it the best rock album of all time and I'm not sure it isn't (non-Beatles category, of course).
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I'm not sure they have. The first Clash record is probably just as good as "Longon Calling," mostly because it has more of the undefinable "energy."
Best song: Oh, man. Take your pick. "The Guns of Brixton" is great, as is the title track. I'll go with the ska/reggae of "Rudie Can't Fail."
Worst song: "Lost in the Supermarket" isn't great
Is it awesome?: Absolutely.

As I've stated, I don't like blue collar rock. As well, I don't like a whole lot of punk rock and I find that political music usually falls short. The Clash go against both of all three principles because they made punk rock mature, blue collar rock cool and made smart political music. Take "London Calling" in comparison to Green Day's "American Idiot." It could be because I don't know a lot about late '70s British politics, but "London Calling" is much smarter than the moronic calling out of flyover states that is "Jesus of Suburbia." In the same way that "What's Going On" is political, "London Calling" is political. In the way that they're both brilliant.


bob_vinyl said...

London Calling is one of my all-time great albums. There are a few double albums that are incredibly ambitious and cross so many genre lines and this is one of them (along with the White Album and Sign O the Times). "Death or Glory" is probably my favorite, but there isn't a weak moment on there.

Other than the Strmmer/Simonen album, Cut the Crap, which was the Clash in name only, they really had a stellar career. Sandinista gets panned a lot and it certainly has it's share of filler, but it was a TRIPLE LP! Some of their best work is on that album.

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