Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Clash - London Calling (1979)

Note: the CD I listened to was the 1999 reissue.

Those that know me know that I'm a horrible contrarian.  So when I read all the "best of" lists and this album is always at or near the top, that makes me not want to hear it (I never claimed contrarianism was a rational condition).  I didn't listen to this album when I was in high school and I'm not gonna hear it now, ya know?  You can't make me listen to it!  But eventually I wore down and bought a copy.  Guess what?  It's as good as advertised.  Dammit, I hate being proved wrong.

There's everything on this album from punk to rockabilly to ska to rock to soul to reggae and even a little New Wave and glam rock.  Normally I'd call an album like that "disjunct" or "manic" but here it all works.  The vocals are horrible and they're perfect.  Instruments are out of tune and that doesn't even bother me.  This album rocks and that's all that matters.  It has deservedly received any number of accolades and 5 star reviews:
  • "one of the greatest rock & roll albums ever recorded" - Allmusic
  • 100/100 - Metacritic 
  •  A+ - Robert Christgau
  • "the greatest rock & roll band in the world" - Rolling Stone #314, p. 60
  • Top albums lists of Rolling Stone, Q, Mojo, NME, Entertainment Weekly, Pitchfork, and the BBC.
  • Appearance in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die where it is hailed as a "masterpiece."

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #27
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #28

Tracks:  My favorites are the title track, Rudie Can't Fail, Lost In The Supermarket, Clampdown, and Train In Vain.  My least favorite track is probably The Guns Of Brixton but there's no way I'd skip it because even the worst track on this album is good.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: When I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, the top floor of the pyramid was dedicated to a Clash exhibit, "Revolution Rock: The Story of the Clash".  It included the bass from the cover photo.  Awesomeness. 


  1. That exhibit at the RnR HOF was the highlight for me. There were others, but I was in awe of that whole section. Good times.

  2. Mark, solid review. I like the album well enough. My review is here: Martin's View: London Calling

  3. Based on all of your prior reviews including the opinions and preferences you expressed therein, I would have sworn London Calling would have not been on your "nice" list. Au contraire. You found the beauty in its flaws and believe me I know it hurts when you have to reluctantly agree with all the crtics. (Brings to mind this song. ) They get it right every once in a while.

    Owing to its late release in the UK in 1979, it shows up on Best of Seventies lists over there while we in the States didn't see a domestic release until January 1980 so it makes all the Best Of The Eighties lists here.