London Calling is also a company that distributes information about events and activities in London to bars and restaurants for customers to pick up. The flyers, programmes and leaflets are displayed in cardboard free-standing racks and re-filled by London Calling distributors.

This type of advertising is known as ambient media - it becomes part of the surroundings and aims top reach people when they are relaxed and open to suggestion for ways to spend their free time.

The Clash

~~~~~~~~~

London Calling

"When you played the master mix to the company men, it took 3 million worldwide to make them understand"

Midnight to Stevens

"Twenty new tracks from the only band that matters"

CBS Marketing Department

"El Clash Combo - Weddings, parties, anything... And bongo jams a specialty."

Revolution Rock

  1. London Calling
  2. Brand New Cadillac
  3. Jimmy Jazz
  4. Hateful
  5. Rudie Can't Fail
  6. Spanish Bombs
  7. The Right Profile
  8. Lost in the Supermarket
  9. Clampdown
  10. The Guns of Brixton
  11. Wrong 'Em Boyo (Including Stagger Lee)
  12. Death Or Glory
  13. Koka Kola
  14. The Card Cheat
  15. Lover's Rock
  16. Four Horsemen
  17. I'm Not Down
  18. Revolution Rock
  19. Train in Vain
All songs Strummer/Jones except:

2: Vince Taylor
10: Paul Simonon
11: C. Alphanso
18: J. Edwards/D.Ray


Personnel:


Release information:

  • UK release: December 1979
  • US release: January 1980


The Scene:

So, it's 1979. The Sex Pistols are gone, UK Punk is going underground, and New Wave is the big thing. The Clash have released two albums, their punk classic eponymous début, and the excellent Give 'Em Enough Rope, which was met with accusations of "heavy metal". More representative of where they were at, musically, were the string of singles such as (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais and Clash City Rockers which integrated ideas from dub, ska and reggae with punk's musical template, mixing in some social commentary and less of punk's original nihilism.

Commentary:

  • Mick Jones:
    "I probably thought of using Guy Stevens as producer. I'm not sure, but I don't remember anybody else being discussed. I knew Bill Price had worked with Guy and that he knew Guy very well".
  • Paul Simonon:
    "Guy was the best person I ever worked with because if I ever made a mistake he said it didn't matter. He was running about, smashing up chairs and wrestling Bill Price. He did a lot, he really inspired everyone and kept everone's spirits up."
  • Micky Gallagher:(Keyboard player with The Blockheads)
    "I was asked if I would do a session for The Clash, they needed some keyboards putting on. Well, I'd heard them here and there, but I'd never listened to them that closely. So I got sent a copy of 'Give 'Em Enough Rope', had a listen, and thought 'My God, what do they want me to do?'"
  • Topper Headon:
    "I went into the studio and there was this teddy boy there and he nicked one of my beers; I said 'Oy, don't fucking take beers without asking'. Mick heard this, and jumped in and said 'This is Micky Gallagher'. I said 'Oh, pleased to meet you'. I loved the keyboard playing I'd heard, but I didn't know what he looked like."

Taken from the sleeve notes to the Clash On Broadway box set.

The Album:

London Calling is one of my all-time favourites. It's a great favourite with music critics too, and appears often in "top ten albums of all time" lists. What is so unique about it is its sheer scope; it came at a crucial time for the Clash, when they really started to expand their musical palette from punk and straight rock music to encompass a little bit of ska (Rudie Can't Fail), reggae (Guns Of Brixton), folk (Hateful, possibly the best drugs song ever to have an accordion on it), 60's pop (The Card Cheat is pure Phil Spector), and even some jazz (Jimmy Jazz).

Lyrically, Jones and Strummer both wrote some absolute gems. There's commentary on urban decay (Lost In The Supermarket), the Spanish Civil War (Spanish Bombs, which was later echoed by the Manic Street Preachers on their number 1, If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next), drug problems (Hateful and Koka Kola) and method actor Montgomery Clift (The Right Profile); and there's even the Clash's first big U.S. hit, Train In Vain, a fairly straight-forward song of betrayal that nearly didn't make it onto the album.

The album still had its nihilistic moments; the title track overflows with boredom, despair, and, above all, anger, but there's plenty of hope; tracks like Death Or Glory and I'm Not Down exemplify the Clash's "us against the world" gang mentality, Rudie Can't Fail celebrates London's bohemian underground, and some of the songs, notably the covers of Brand New Cadillac and Wrong 'Em Boyo, are just plain fun.

It's difficult to pick out the best tracks, because London Calling is a remarkably consistent album, despite its genre-hopping. Producer Guy Stevens was so confident with his production, and with the overall quality of the album, that when the label executives came to the studio to get the master tapes, he lay down in the road in front of their car, and refused to move until they acknowledged London Calling's brilliance.

After they had most of their recording done, the band told CBS that they wanted to release a double album, but insisted that it be sold for the price of a single album (The Clash were one of the first bands to go up against their record company and ticket agency to reduce record and ticket prices). CBS replied that they couldn't afford to release a double album. So the band came back asking if they could include a free single with the album. This had been a successful tactic before; initial copies of their début album had been sold with a copy of the Capital Radio single included. Next they asked if it could be a 12" single. CBS agreed. Then, they asked if the single could be 33 1/3 rpm (instead of the usual 45rpm), and if it could have nine tracks on it. So, CBS capitulated, at the cost of reduced royalties for the band on the first pressing.

The cover of London Calling features a live picture of Paul Simonon, onstage at the New York Palladium, about to trash his bass; the picture was taken by Pennie Smith, his then-girlfriend. "The show had gone quite well, but for me inside, it just wasn't working well, so I suppose I took it out on the bass. If I was smart, I would have got the spare bass and used that one, because it wasn't as good as the one I smashed up," he commented later. Apparently, he still has the remains of the guitar. Although at the time she said that the picture wasn't high enough quality to put on the cover of an album, the band insisted, and the photograph has since become one of the most famous album covers of all time. The cover art is a pastiche of the cover of Elvis Presley's début album, itself an iconic cover.


The Summary:

I *love* this album. IMHO, it's one of the most important albums, punk or otherwise, ever. And I think everybody should have a copy of it.


This was my entry for Everything Quests: Albums and CDs...

London calling to the faraway towns
Now that war is declared and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, all you boys and girls
London calling, now don't look at us
All that phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust
London calling, see we ain't got no swing
'Cept for the ring of that truncheon thing

"Tony, hey, it's George. How's it going over there? You keeping the loonies calm?"

"Oh, hello George. I'm really tired and it's late here..."

"Did you see how we got the bad man? This is so great. Soon we are going to bring freedom and democracy to the whole world. We'll be heroes to history!"

"I just took a sleeping pill. I've been having trouble sleeping."

"Whenever I'm having trouble sleeping I imagine myself in a cowboy outfit on a horse chasing after a wild boar, except that the boar has different faces all the times. Sometimes it has Dick's face and sometimes it has that looney filmmaker's face. It is loads of fun and always puts me to sleep."

"I need to go, George. Call me tomorrow, okay?"

"I will. Are we still going steady?"

"Yes, George. We are still going steady."

The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in
Engines stop running and the wheat is growing thin
A nuclear error, but I have no fear
London is drowning and I live by the river

"Sorry to bother you, George, but I'm getting worried about the loonies. There are a growing number of people who don't seem to get it."

"They get confused because they don't have a lot of money because they're stupid. I wouldn't worry too much about them. There is a new video game deal coming out over here soon. That should placate most of the loonies over here through the election."

"Well, I don't know. I'm nervous."

"You've always been nervous, Tony. I tell you what, I'm waiting for some kind of new Abbie Hoffman character to show up. We can send him to Guantanamo as a terrorist and then we can go down there and make fun of him while we have that weird Cuban midget we captured bite at his balls."

"Honestly, George, I can't be involved in all that."

"It is so easy, Tony, believe me. You just make fun of them. We're going to put the loonies in cages after the election. You know that tiger they shot over here the other day? It will be kind of like that. I'm looking forward to it, and let me tell you, Donald has such a hard-on for this..."

"George, look, I need some advice. I'm seeing opposition to the program grow, and I'm worried it might turn bloody awful after too much longer."

"Bang, bang, Tony. Stick to your guns. Be like John Wayne. Don't rest until you get all the bad guys. We got that one bad guy, and let me tell you, I went down to where they had him and I poked him with a stick."

"A stick?"

"Yeah, just a small stick, but it was fun. He was so funny. He kept yelling things about how he was president. I'm the president. I'm always going to be the president. My mom doesn't think so, but..."

"I need to go, George."

London calling to the imitation zone
Forget it, brother, an' go it alone
London calling upon the zombies of death
Quit holding out and draw another breath
London calling and I don't wanna shout
But when we were talking, I saw you nodding out
London calling, see we ain't got no highs
Except for that one with the yellowy eyes

"What do we say when people ask us about the reasons for going to war?"

"Well, there were a lot of factors in the decision..."

"No, no, Tony. You aren't getting it. Repeat after me. Bad man. Say it."

"Bad man."

"That's right. Bad man. Whenever they ask a question, you need to talk about the bad man. Would you rather have bad man around? Aren't we safer without bad man? Isn't everything better without bad man? Do you like the bad man? Do you want the bad man? It works very well. You can use it. It's mine, but you can use it."

"Well, I don't know how far that..."

"Just say it after I ask you a question, you'll see how it works."

"Look, I know, but..."

"What about the weapons of mass destruction that were never found?"

"What?"

"No, this is the test. You're supposed to say 'bad man' when I ask you a question."

"Oh, okay, I get it. Ask me again."

"What about the weapons of mass destruction that were never found?"

"Bad man."

"What about the bad man?"

"We got rid of the bad man. We are better off without the bad man. We're safer without the bad man. We beat the bad man."

"Very good. You'll be fine. It works for as long as you use it. Every once and a while, just throw in a laugh or give them a look like they are a bunch of loonies if they don't understand about the bad man. What's the word, you have to be... incredulous! That's it, act incredulous about them questioning why the bad man needed to be taken out. It works. I am going to ride this bad man thing all the way to the election."

"What about the other bad man?"

"Who? You mean that bin Laden son of a bitch? Well, I have my ideas about him, got something I'm working on, but I really want to save it for the right moment. Sort of like a high noon kind of deal to seal this whole election thing. Four more years, Tony, that's what we keep singing about over here. Four more years!"

"Okay, I will keep towing the line, we'll see how it goes. I have my own political things going on over here. I just want to watch my ass. I'm not sure someone else would understand the situation as well as I do."

"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. Sleep well, Tony. Think about the wild boar with the different faces on it. You'll enjoy it and you'll sleep like a baby."

Now get this
London calling, yeah, I was there, too
An' you know what they said? Well, some of it was true!
London calling at the top of the dial
After all this, won't you give me a smile?

"Congratulations, George."

"Four more years, Tony. Just enough time to set everything up and get it done. We're remaking the world one piece at a time."

"What's going on with these riots I'm hearing about. Everything under control?"

"That's just the loonies. They'll get bored and move along. Disputing the election again, like a damned rerun. Probably all on the pot and whatnot, just like the Sixties. We're getting ready to send three of their leaders to Guantanamo, just like I talked about months ago. We're flying this baby all the way to the finish line."

"Well, I wish you luck. It has been nice working with you."

"Sorry you won't be up in the driver's seat with me, but I've worked out a deal to cover that end. Nothing personal, but I had to move on. We're moving in on Operation Perfect Freedom after Christmas. Donald thinks we should wait until after the holidays to make the biggest splash. After Christmas everyone is always bored and looking for something to get excited about. We'll have a smash hit on our hands with this one."

"Well, I'll still be pulling for you anyway I can."

"I know you will be, little buddy. You're in with us all the way now. We're going to change the world in the name of freedom and democracy one step at a time!"

"I don't know if I've ever put it this way, but I believe in you, George."

"That's a beautiful sentiment and sometimes makes me wish that whole revolution thing some two hundred years ago never happened. We might be stronger still if we still had your country as a colony."

"Well, it wasn't really that. I think you have it backwards."

"Oh, come on now. No one believes those stories any longer. People have woken up to the truth. We were always the boss."

"I hate to remind you, but--"

"Look, I hate to cut this short, but I have a call on the other line. It might be someone who is sending a present. Speaking of which, I've yet to receive any gift from you to celebrate the election. Did you forget?"

"No, but--"

"I'm glad you're complicit."

"So am I."

"Okay, keep it in mind. Got a call on the other line. Catch you later, little buddy."

I never felt so much a' like


The Clash lyrics copyright 1979 and used within fair use standards.

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