“London Calling” – The Clash
I thought I’d honor the 5th of November by fomenting some anarchy with a solid British punk jam. The song “London Calling” is off of The Clash’s third studio album of the same name, London Calling, which was released in 1979. Earlier in the year the band had separated from their manager Bernard Rhodes, and subsequently had to find a new studio to record in. They started rehearsing and writing songs at Vanilla Studios in Pimlico, and a few months later began the recording process at Wessex Studio. To the chagrin of their label, CBS Records, The Clash asked Guy Stevens to produce London Calling. Stevens was known for his unique and unconventional recording style as well as alcohol and drug abuse, so naturally he got along well with the band, especially bassist Paul Simonon (pictured in the video above smashing his Fender Precision Bass on stage.) Between takes the group would play football, and during takes Stevens would throw chairs around the band to create the right atmosphere. The album was recorded in a matter of weeks.
In the album London Calling, The Clash started to incorporate more reggae and ska sounds into their music, and this is noticeable in todays song’s bassline in particular. The song’s lyrics address many issues in the UK at the time of recording, including a nuclear incident at Three Mile Island earlier in the year, police brutality, and worry over the Thames flooding into central London. Singer and lyricist Joe Strummer said, “We felt that we were struggling about to slip down a slope or something, grasping with our fingernails. And there was no one there to help us.” You can hear that stress and angst throughout the song, up until the Morse code S-O-S feedback ending.
Anyway, get up and jump around, do some head banging, smash a guitar if you really feel into it, but most of all remember, remember the 5th of November. Have a good one.