The Clash

Clampdown

Composed by Joe Strummer / Mick Jones

Song Review by

Despite some excursions into slick pop, disco, and reggae, the majority of London Calling was defined by the kind of bracing, punk-tinged rock and roll that had made the Clash famous. One of its best moments in the ‘rocker’ arena was "Clampdown," a social critique that was singled out by fans and critics alike as one of the best moments on London Calling. The lyrics take aim at people who forsake the idealism of youth to become part of a cold, heartless ‘adult world’ (i.e.: "the clampdown") and urge young people to fight the status quo: "You don’t owe nothing, so boy, get running/It’s the best years of your life they want to steal." The music avoids the typical verse-chorus structure of a pop song in favor of militaristic march style where staccato musical phrases are interspersed with a hypnotic chant of "working for the clampdown." The Clash’s recording of "Clampdown" brings the fiery passion of the lyrics to life with a full-throttle rock attack: Joe Strummer spits out the lyrics in a truly feral style while Mick Jones lays down anthemic guitar riffs and the rhythm section keeps things moving relentlessly forward with a double-time beat. The end result is song that works both as a fiery rocker and an impassioned slice of social commentary.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
London Calling 1979 Sony Music
Story of the Clash, Vol. 1 1988 Epic/Legacy 3:49
No Image 1990 Relativity
Clash on Broadway 1991 Epic / Epic/Legacy / Legacy 3:50
Yellow Riot: Tokyo 1982 1992 Genuine Pig
The Clash/London Calling/Combat Rock [2000] 2000 Sony Music Distribution
No Image 2000
The Essential Clash 2003 Sony Music / Sony Music Entertainment
The Essential Clash [DVD] 2003 Smv
The Singles [Box Set] 2006 Sony BMG 3:51
Combat Rock/London Calling 2007 Sony BMG 3:50
Live: Revolution Rock 2008 Sony Music Distribution
Live at Shea Stadium 2008 Legacy / Epic/Legacy 4:26
Great British Albums 2012
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:49
The Complete Studio Albums 2013 Sony Music 3:49
Box Set Music on Vinyl 3:49
blue highlight denotes editor's pick