The Clash

The Call Up

Composed by The Clash / Topper Headon / Mick Jones / Paul Simonon / Joe Strummer

Song Review by

The lyrics of the Clash’s triple-album Sandinista! had the familiar sense of social commentary that had always been a part of their style but its music tackled everything from pop to reggae to hard rock, often in the same song. A good example of this duality is "The Call-Up," a Sandinista! single that experimented with a variety of styles underneath its protest lyrics. The lyrics of this song rail against the kind of seductive patriotism that lures young people into the military and often leads them to their doom: "All the young people down the ages/they gladly marched off to die/Proud city fathers used to watch them/Tears in their eyes." The music takes a more adventurous tack by juxtaposing militaristic march-styled sections with rhythmic verses and choruses that have a reggae feel. The Clash’s recording of "The Call Up" takes this ambitious tune even further by adding Devo-styled synthesizer drones at various points and fleshing out its groove with some soul music-inspired rhythm guitar riffs. The result was a strong message supported by a beguiling stew of catchy sounds. It failed to click with U.S. listeners as a single but remains a favorite with Clash fans. Fans will want to note that the group also remixed this song to create an instrumental version called "The Cool Out" and this remix can be found on Super Black Market Clash.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Sandinista! 1980 Legacy / Epic 5:28
The Singles 1991 Legacy / Epic 5:26