When you hear certain albums for the first time you enter into a legacy of love that will forever become embedded into the imprint of your life. Pet Sounds, Five Leaves Left and Songs In The Key Of Life being amongst that exclusive club. 1979’s London Calling ranks firmly alongside these, whilst the bands beginnings were rooted in punk, The Clash entered the elite crowd of rocks finest with this esteemed release.
Re-released via Sony in 2019 on its 40th anniversary there are a number of special editions available. Vinyl, cassette and CD plus a special limited edition scrapbook. The scrapbook features many previously unseen and rare pictures of the band on stage and backstage plus newspaper clippings, hand written lyrics and the bands personal belongings, delving into the bands archive like never before.
With all this activity another re-birth of a vital long player requires revaluation. With the bands classic line up established 2 years prior in 1977 Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon entered the studio to start work on what would become an all-time classic double album.
Beginning the album with the iconic title track London Calling, this is made of the stuff that sends a shiver down the spine. Drums and guitar explode through the speakers before the bass enters to maximum effect, when the gallop of the drums quicken you know you’re in for a treat. Strummer enters the fray with enough passion and guts to thrust the message into the soul of the listener, an empathic piece of music to start any album, a similar trait flows throughout the album.
There’s a mixed bag of punk mixed with rock & roll, ska, rockabilly, jazz and New Orleans R&B featured across the board which ticks all the boxes of outstanding musicianship. The stand out moments for me include Rudie Can’t Fail with Jones and Strummer sharing the duet vocal duties, Lost In The Supermarket has expert high hat usage from Headon, Guns Of Brixton features Simonon deep reggae bass calling the shots before I’m Not Down has the band in a twirl of fast paced rock. Train In Vain is the curtain call on the album with Jones getting the lead vocal duties singing over a popular riff that would see it performed on their live TV debut in the USA.
Accompanying this anniversary set is an exhibition telling the story of the bands rise to prominence which features significant memorabilia from this period including the bass guitar Simonon smashed on stage as shot by Pennie Smith for the albums front cover, plus clothes, note books, hand written lyrics and one off band personal items of the time. Held at The Museum of London until the spring of 2020, this will no doubt be a one off celebration of this all-time classic release never to be repeated.
The 40th anniversary set can be purchased via the following link.