David L Ulin
Release Date: 01 July 2013
This is an album with roots, with a sense of place, of interaction, a record made by grown-ups who understand more than a little something of their place within the world.London Calling
is the great album to emerge from the 1970s British punk scene, a record that transcends its place and time to become a universal expression of both rage and hope. A deeply political record (Kick over the wall / cause governments to fall), it is also a profound musical statement, in which the Clash shed their status as noisy punkers and quite literally explode outward, trying on a variety of forms and genres from 1950s style R & B to rockabilly, reggae, and authentic rock. What's so astonishing about London Calling
is its aura of possibility, the way we can feel, at nearly every instant, the propulsive tension of a band pushing beyond its own parameters, exploring the limits of creativity and control. It is this that makes the album sound so urgent nearly a quarter century after its original release.
This book focuses on the album's coherent vision, which melds references to Montgomery Clift, the Spanish Civil War, Madison Avenue advertising culture, neo-fascism, and British racial politics, as well as the quiet desperation embodied by songs like Lost in the Supermarket, Hateful, and Train in Vain. Coming out of what was, by any standard, an insular culture - first generation British punk - built on shock value and adolescent rebellion, London Calling
remains a strikingly mature declaration of allegiance to a more extensive bohemian ethos, in which punk becomes one part of a continuum, rather than the literal end of everything, the 'No future' of Johnny Rotten rants. This is an album with roots, in other words, with a sense of place, of interaction, a record made by grown-ups who understand more than a little something of their place within the world.
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