Throwback Thursday – London Calling | The Clash


(c) Adrian Boot /

The Clash Mick Jones, Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon photographed in Belfast, Northern Ireland 1977

Andrew Younker

The Clash released London Calling 38 years ago, an album that earned them the unofficial title as “The Only Band That Matters.” As a  punk band signed to CBS, the Clash displayed a kick-ass attitude along with striking depth as musicians for their label as a garage band. Displaying proficiency in genres such as rockabilly, ska, reggae and pop, the Clash made themselves hard to ignore following the release of their 1979 double-album.

The title and intro track of London Calling features one of the best bass guitar lines in rock music, accentuating the eery glow of the track. Joe Strummer’s anguished yelps and staccato guitar strums build up this feeling of despair, and the drum groove sits in pocket and drives the song forward. Themes of heavy war and political unrest are extremely common in Clash songs, especially this one, as Strummer cries, “London calling to the faraway towns/Now war is declared, and battle come down.” The track makes reference toward a nuclear reactor accident in Pennsylvania during the same year the album was released. The Clash refused to let their listeners sit idly or at the very least remain ignorant to the horrors of the world.

Other standout cuts from the album include “Guns Of Brixton,” “Death Or Glory,” and “Rudie Can’t Fail,” but don’t be fooled, this tracklist has many other great songs to discover. The Clash have a rich discography with many albums worth listening to, but London Calling stands the test of time as one of the best post-punk albums of the era.