The Clash

London Calling

Composed by Joe Strummer / Mick Jones

Song Review by

After suffering a bit of a sophomore slump with 1978's Give 'Em Enough Rope, the Clash returned with a vengeance on the classic London Calling. This exuberant and complex double album found the group delivering ambitious music with total energy and conviction, a mandate that is firmly laid down with the album-opening title track. The lyrics read like a call to order for all post-punk generation rockers, complete with couplets like "London calling to the imitation zone/Forget it, brother, you can go it alone." They also use imagery like "The ice age is coming/The sun's zooming in" to create an apocalyptic feel. However, the songwriters were clever enough to keep things from getting too overwrought by working in occasional witty moments like "London calling to the zombies of death/Quit holding out and draw another breath." The music behind these sentiments has a hypnotic sense of drive, foregoing the usual verse-chorus structure in favor of a circular melody that allows the lyrics to take center stage and utilizes a mesmerizing descending-note motif to underline the oft-repeated title phrase. The Clash's recording of "London Calling" cleverly crossbreeds anthemic hard rock with reggae by juxtaposing slashing, staccato guitar riffs with an undulating rhythm section beat as Strummer lays down a snarling vocal that delivers the lyrics with a combination of passion and fervor. All these elements made "London Calling" a witty but powerful manifesto for post-punk rock & roll and its thorough excellence makes it easy to wonder why critics and fans alike consider London Calling to be both the Clash's finest hour and one of the greatest rock albums of the 1980s.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
London Calling 1979 Sony Music
No Image 1982
Various Artists
Elektra
Story of the Clash, Vol. 1 1988 Epic/Legacy 3:20
Rock Classics: Laserscharf 1989
Various Artists
CBS Records 3:18
Clash on Broadway 1991 Epic / Epic/Legacy / Legacy 3:13
The Singles 1991 Legacy
Yellow Riot: Tokyo 1982 1992 Genuine Pig
Young at Heart, Vol. 1 [Sounds Direct Discs 1-2] 1993
Various Artists
Sounds Direct
Going Underground [Castle] 1994
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd. 3:20
France 1981 1995 Redline Records
Sony Music 100 Years: Soundtrack for a Century 1999
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 3:20
From Here to Eternity: Live 1999 Sony Music Distribution 3:29
The Clash/London Calling/Combat Rock [2000] 2000 Sony Music Distribution
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 3:19
Billy Elliot 2000
Original Soundtrack
Interscope 3:20
Music of the Millennium, Vol. 2 [Universal] 2000
Various Artists
Universal International 3:20
Face 2000
Original Soundtrack
Polygram 3:20
No Image 2000
No Image 2001
Original Soundtrack
Warner Music
Q Anthems 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:21
The Essential Clash 2003 Sony Music / Sony Music Entertainment
What a Girl Wants 2003
Original Soundtrack
Atlantic 3:19
The Essential Clash [DVD] 2003 Smv
UK Music Hall of Fame 2004
Various Artists
Universal International 3:19
Rock Hits [Universal] 2005
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
Best Bands 2005 2005
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:21
Shake Some Action: 39 Alternative Classics 1976-1991 2006
Various Artists
Shock
The Singles [Box Set] 2006 Sony BMG 3:21
Combat Rock/London Calling 2007 Columbia 3:19
Live: Revolution Rock 2008 Sony Music Distribution
Live at Shea Stadium 2008 Legacy / Epic/Legacy 3:29
Live in Paris 2009 Pickwick / Umbrella
Made in Britain 2012
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:19
Great British Albums 2012
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:19
The Complete Studio Albums 2013 Sony Music 3:19
Triple J: 40 Years of Music 2015
Various Artists
ABC 3:19
100% Rolling Stone
Various Artists
Frequency Records
No Image
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
Box Set Music on Vinyl 3:19
CMJ New Music, Vol. 79
Various Artists
College Media
Jaguar London Calling Collection
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
Pier Pressure Tendolar
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