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Defending London Calling

Well, I was going to write this morning on the virtues of the Clash's London Calling, as I was mystfied as to why so many people think it's overrated when it's truly one of the greatest albums ever.

Anyhow, there's no need for me to do that now, as Ilyka has defended London Calling in the exact way it should be defended, with her heart.

What you do have in London Calling, drunk producer or no, is an album that sounds like people having fun.
I think that's why some folks furrow their brows and complain they don't get it--because fun is individual, fun is personal. My fun and your fun might never meet. Your fun is not necessarily my fun. Your fun might be the very antithesis of my fun, and if your fun is spraypainting Grateful Dead logos on the back of your denim jacket, I can just about guarantee that it is.

Well, I did spray paint the cover to Steal Your Face on my denim jacket when I was in 9th grade, but then the Clash came and saved me.

Go read Ilyka while I contemplate what to write now that she did what I was going to do better than I would have.


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I think London Calling is hurt by what came next, that overstuffed concept album Sandinista.

But there are too many super songs on London Calling - ones I can't live without - to not consider it a great album:

London Calling
Brand New Cadillac
Lost in the Supermarket
Wrong 'em Boyo
Spanish Bombs
Koka Kola
Guns of Brixton
Train in Vain
Rudie Can't Fail

That's a lot of quality for an overrated album, no? And it's not that I don't like the other songs...

I agree with eric. There are many, many classic songs. My favs are Train in Vain and Guns Brixton. I am glad you posted this Michele because I completely lost the plot when I saw London Calling on your over rated album list. Wasn't sure if your site would ever be the same to me again but I read your clarification and I am back to thinking you rule. I am 32 and was given this album in the late 1980s after breaking up with first girlfriend. Train in Vain spoke to me and I have listened to it at least once a week ever since. A brilliant, brilliant album.

The fact that "Train," which isn't even listed on the liner, became such a hit should tell you everything you need to know about the album, and the band. They kinda threw that song in as an afterthought, probably joking amongst themselves "well, at least this one might get some airplay on Radio 4."

I really couldn't understand the hammering London Calling took in the poll postings. That song list was like the '27 Yankees: Murderer's Row. I defy someone to point at any individual track and say, "Well. that one just sucked" and mount anything like a rational defense to such a premise.

Just look at that list Eric put up: You get machine gunned from power and fury to pathos. What more can you ask from any damn band? And when you frame it in its time, it is audaciously singular in it's sincerity.

Sandinista needed to have half the songs cut. Joe Strummer was very bitter the album tanked, while UK record buyers ponied up $$$ for Public Image's expensive album (it came in a metal box)

Fun? To me, London Calling sounds like your average bar band music from any towne U.S.A. It's not a bad album, just overrated. That's whole point of "overrated" isn't it? One group loves it while another just doesn't get it.

At least admit that "Death or Glory" is a repetitive bore.

I think I'd rather hear your defense of it, Michele. Even though I will never agree with it, because the album still bores me.

I DO NOT understand what people saw in Joe Strummer.

Meh. I like the first three songs. After that it just blurs into mush.

Another reason London Calling is a classic album is the photo of Paul Simonon smashing his bass. To me, it is one the defining images of rock photogrphy.

Your comments on London Calling.

Amen... a secular Amen but Amen nonetheless...

jwl: Bingo!
That has to be one of the greatest covers, ever.
Young idiot slumming through the record bins: "Oh, I'm bored"
Slightly less young idiot thumbing through the "C": "Get a load of this!"

Wait...nobody thumbs through the bins anymore, do they....

(totters off into a hoary corner and yells at Yogi to give up the duck...)

Oh yes, they do go thumbing through the bins. In fact the hip thing is to do it with a DJ backpack so everyone has to squeeze around you.

I can see I'm going to have to write about my days guarding the cut-out bins at Record World.

... had I been in Long Island, I would have been one of the hooligans you would have been guarding against. Sticker switching and smuggling LPs under winter coats was my speciality.

London Calling was abou the ONLY thing I listened to for about a year in 1979-1980. I can't overstate how much that album changed my musical worldview.

I actually had it on 8-track tape. And wore that sucker out.

Favorites? Hard to choose, but "Death or Glory", "London Calling", and "Clampdown".

Thanks for the defense, Michelle.

4 white guys from England do Reggae, Funk, Blues, Swing, Soul, Rap etc etc etc etc. The best album ever. Get on the pipe and listen from top to bottom and take a music lesson. Long live the Clash!!