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  1. #1
    Rocket Surgeon Swish's Avatar
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    Week 18: 50 Albums That Changed Music

    Ok, we probably won't get many detractors for this one, although I find it hard to believe a bunch of British rock critics would pick this one. And this week's entry is The Clash - London Calling (1979)

    The best record to come out of punk, or punk's death knell? On this double album, The Clash fused their rockabilly roots with their love of reggae, moving away from the choppy snarls of the scene that birthed them. This was the album that legitimised puck - hitherto a stroppy fad - into the rock canon. Its iconic cover, and songs about the Spanish Civil war brought left-wing politics firmly into musical fashion. Without this would the west have come to love reggae, dub and ragga quite as much? We certainly would have no Manic Street Preachers...or Green Day, or Rancid...or possibly even Lily Allen.

    I would agree this was not only a fabulous album but a tremendously influential one as well, and I would again like to point out that their list following "Without this" is kind of pathetic. Surely they could come up some bigger names that those, with the exception of Green Day of course.

    Swish
    I call my bathroom Jim instead of John so I can tell people that I go to the Jim first thing every morning.

    If you say the word 'gullible' very slowly it sounds just like oranges.

  2. #2
    Forum Regular BradH's Avatar
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    I would be surprised if a bunch of British rock critics did not pick this one. But I don't see how it changed music as much as they say. Even after London Calling was released, the UK version of the Clash's first lp was still commonly cited as their best by the Gang Of Four and lots of other bands and critics as late as 80/81. I don't agree with that but I think that first record was more influential. For instance, check this bit: "Without this would the west have come to love reggae, dub and ragga quite as much?" Gee, I don't know. Ever hear of Reggata de Blanc which was already out by then? Madness, The Specials, The (English) Beat and the whole Coventry scene were already in play. So, yeah, without London Calling there would've been a 90's ska revival and probably even a Green Day as long as there was The Jam.

    I think this was The Clash's masterpiece. But, once again, The Guardian has picked an influential band and automatically selected their best or most popular album and tacked on a bass-ackwards look at what happened.

  3. #3
    Rocket Surgeon Swish's Avatar
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    Uh, yeah, hence the smiley face.

    Quote Originally Posted by BradH
    I would be surprised if a bunch of British rock critics did not pick this one.
    Maybe a would have been better?

    Swish
    I call my bathroom Jim instead of John so I can tell people that I go to the Jim first thing every morning.

    If you say the word 'gullible' very slowly it sounds just like oranges.

  4. #4
    Forum Regular BradH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swish
    Maybe a would have been better?

    Swish
    Oh yeah....that.

  5. #5
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    I would like to make a request for more controversy.

    And perhaps more sarcasm.

    No, really.
    Eschew fascism.
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  6. #6
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    I'll be controversial. London Calling sucks. Okay, maybe sucks is too strong. Overrated? Its definately uneven. The problem is anyone who's ever claimed to be punk has claimed them as an influence, so it's tough to argue that they are not influential. I will admit that my opinion is somewhat biased against the "rock 'n' roll canon" if there is such a thing, which I think there is. i.e. I also think the Beatles and Pink Floyd are overrated, so many people might consider my opinion lacking in authority.

    However, punk rock is my bag and London Calling ain't ballz to me. For that matter neither is Never Mind The Bollocks. Both of these records were identified by the press as the commonly cited example of what this new thing called "punk" was. For my money, neither are the best examples of late seventies/early eighties punk.

    Its ponderous on some tracks and frothy light on others. "Brand New Cadillac" is exhibit "A" to the lack of influence on this record. The best, most ripping song on the record, was written by another guy!

    When I started cutting my teeth on punk it was the mid-eighties. I was much more interested in Blondie, Minutemen, Dead-Milkmen, Dead Kenneds, Joan Jett, Mojo Nixon, Naked Raygun, Reagan Youth, the Jam, Undertones, the Damned, Stiff Little Fingers, the Cramps.

    For me The Clash was just the guys from that dumb armadillo video. Already been there, saw it on MTV. Frankly, Rock and Roll High School and Repo Man were way way way more influential, at least on me, than London Calling.

    Now mind you, its not that I don't like The Clash, it't just that I'm not lining up to drink the Kool-Aid.

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    Slump "We're the Meatmen, and you Suck!" Buster

  7. #7
    Mutant from table 9
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    Oh, and so there is no confusion. Joe Strummer is another thing all together. As far as his solo and post-clash work. Of the Mutha F'in Hook! Especially his work in the years before death. Talk about going out on a high note having established yourself as a true godfather of punk.

  8. #8
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    So nobody on this site is into the group Renaissance?
    How about their musicians' turnover. Talk about that, huh? Yeah.

    Should I wait for the Week19 to post this?
    Sorry if this has already been discussed. Decided to pop my cherry on 50ATCM.

    -JRA

  9. #9
    Forum Regular nobody's Avatar
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    I like London Calling a lot...one of my favorite records. Listened to it this weekend after seeing this thread. Is it a bit scattered? Yes...and that's much of what I love about it.

    At a time when punk's initial wave was fading and the newer bands who picked up the banner were becomming more and more regimented in many cases, this one blew out and said you can still be a punk band and make music that doesn't fall into the same old traps.

    Maybe bands like the Minutemen would never have gotten playing time at punk clubs had an album like this that held broad punk appeal while being musically diverse been first unleashed.

    But, then again, this is coming from someone who actually likes the sprawl of Sandinista.

    As to the Meatmen...One Down Three to Go!

    And personally I was always underwhelmed by Strummer's solo work. His last release after his death was really good, but most of the rest I heard was spotty at best and mostly kinda mid-tempo and boring to my ears. Absolutely no way was his post Clash work anywhere near comparable with what he accomplished with the Clash.

    And, Joan Jett still rocks!

  10. #10
    Mutant from table 9
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    Quote Originally Posted by nobody
    I like London Calling a lot...one of my favorite records. Listened to it this weekend after seeing this thread. Is it a bit scattered? Yes...and that's much of what I love about it.

    As to the Meatmen...One Down Three to Go!

    And, Joan Jett still rocks!

    As for listening to London Calling this weekend, I will give you that. I haven't listened to the Meatmen in 20? years. Somehow "Tooling for Anus" just didn't age well.

    Joan Jett on the other hand has aged very well. Man she looks good these days. Joan skipped my town on this last tour. I was very disappointed. The new album is choice. She was here over the summer as part of the Warped Tour, but I don't do all day shows anymore.

  11. #11
    Close 'n PlayŽ user Troy's Avatar
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    Yeah, once again I gree with Brad. That "Without this would the west have come to love reggae, dub and ragga quite as much?" comment is quite short-sighted what with The Police, English Beat and even XTC already plying that trade.

    As for me personally, I'd take those other 3 bands in a heartbeat over The Clash in the listenablity and "not sounding as dated" catagories.

    As for bringing "left-wing politics firmly into musical fashion", what a load. Uhh, Dylan? Hello?

    Once again, a decent, if safe, choice, but the hyperbole from these guys is just WAY over the top.

  12. #12
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    So nobody on this site is into the group Renaissance?
    What the L does this have to do with the Clash? Yeah, I like Renaissance, not sure what it has to do with this thread, though.
    Eschew fascism.
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  13. #13
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    I dont know the rules on this thread, so I'll just out. Peace.

  14. #14
    Forum Regular BradH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy
    As for bringing "left-wing politics firmly into musical fashion", what a load. Uhh, Dylan? Hello?
    What's odd is they're saying the "iconic cover" had something to do with that, too. The inner circle of Clash friends and roadies hated it because it was a nod to Elvis. I hated the Clash altogether back then but I mostly remember there was a lot of talk about London Calling being a sellout (along with it being best of the year). I like it quite a lot better now. Apparently, they were a helluva live band and torched everybody's brain who saw them. Tons of their early audience members went out and formed bands of their own. So, they were influential but I've noticed the Guardian's list has a certain "greatest hits" aspect to it.

    Speaking of left-wing politics, they fired Topper Headon because of his heroin addiction but they couldn't admit that because it was just way too Rolling Stones, too old school. So they claimed they fired him because they didn't like his politics! Too much of a Tory, you see. (I remember the sneer that brought from Keith Richards.) That single act is the most pretentious thing I've ever heard of in rock 'n' roll history, standing taller than the mountain of caped and winged costumes worn by all the prog rockers.

    Having said that, I think I'll listen to Give 'Em Enough Rope.

  15. #15
    Suspended 3-LockBox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy
    Yeah, once again I gree with Brad. That "Without this would the west have come to love reggae, dub and ragga quite as much?" comment is quite short-sighted what with The Police, English Beat and even XTC already plying that trade.
    I was just going to say that, and add Madness to your list as well. I like and agree with most everyone's assessment of this album as far as albums go. I'll take it a step further...its significant in that I think this album helped usher in new wave, not that its new wave sounding, but I think it brought truly listenable songcraft into the punk/alternative relm and helped throw dirt on the stagnet punk scene.

  16. #16
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    I'm with you

    Quote Originally Posted by SlumpBuster

    However, punk rock is my bag and London Calling ain't ballz to me.
    When "London Calling" came out, I viewed is a nice, lightweight fun record and my opinion of it hasn't changed. It's nice to listen to on occasion but I thought The Clash's first LP was a lot better. LC may not have been punk's "death knell" but it certainly was The Clash's - at least as a pure punk ensemble. It sent them off in a new direction, one that I don't particularly care for. Disagree about the Pistols, however - that disc caused quite a stir when it was first released.
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  17. #17
    Plays well with others. Foggy's Avatar
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    I was just going to say that, and add Madness to your list as well. I like and agree with most everyone's assessment of this album as far as albums go. I'll take it a step further...its significant in that I think this album helped usher in new wave, not that its new wave sounding, but I think it brought truly listenable songcraft into the punk/alternative relm and helped throw dirt on the stagnet punk scene.
    __________________
    I agree with your points but Marquee Moon was out years before London Calling. And I've always thought that it brought listen-ability to the table as far as punk went too. Just a thought.

  18. #18
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlumpBuster
    I'll be controversial. London Calling sucks. Okay, maybe sucks is too strong. Overrated? Its definately uneven. The problem is anyone who's ever claimed to be punk has claimed them as an influence, so it's tough to argue that they are not influential. I will admit that my opinion is somewhat biased against the "rock 'n' roll canon" if there is such a thing, which I think there is. i.e. I also think the Beatles and Pink Floyd are overrated, so many people might consider my opinion lacking in authority.

    However, punk rock is my bag and London Calling ain't ballz to me. For that matter neither is Never Mind The Bollocks. Both of these records were identified by the press as the commonly cited example of what this new thing called "punk" was. For my money, neither are the best examples of late seventies/early eighties punk.

    Its ponderous on some tracks and frothy light on others. "Brand New Cadillac" is exhibit "A" to the lack of influence on this record. The best, most ripping song on the record, was written by another guy!

    When I started cutting my teeth on punk it was the mid-eighties. I was much more interested in Blondie, Minutemen, Dead-Milkmen, Dead Kenneds, Joan Jett, Mojo Nixon, Naked Raygun, Reagan Youth, the Jam, Undertones, the Damned, Stiff Little Fingers, the Cramps.

    For me The Clash was just the guys from that dumb armadillo video. Already been there, saw it on MTV. Frankly, Rock and Roll High School and Repo Man were way way way more influential, at least on me, than London Calling.

    Now mind you, its not that I don't like The Clash, it't just that I'm not lining up to drink the Kool-Aid.

    Thanks
    Slump "We're the Meatmen, and you Suck!" Buster
    Yes, "sucks" is waayyyy too strong.

    I was into hardcore around the same period (starting around '81 in the DC scene), and I could see the influence of the Clash on punk much more clearly. Not London Calling so much, but look at the earlier albums. Give 'Em Enough Rope is a punk tour de force.

    London Calling was significant mostly in the context of those older albums. It demonstrated the sheer musicality and virtuosity of the musicians, which isn't something people normally associated with punk (Tom Verlaine notwithstanding). It made a lot of people reconsider the musical value of the earlier stuff, and it opened the doors for a lot of other styles and influences to be mixed in (with punk that is), not unlike the impact of Sgt Pepper's on rock in the 60s and early 70s.

    It's a shame you think of the Clash as that band on MTV; there was so, so much more to it than that. You obviously never saw them live, or you'd understand why so many people cited them as a primary influence. Go rent some of the excellent documentary videos that have been released in recent years. It's hard to grasp the raw power and energy of that band without seeing their live performances.

    And Never Mind the Bollocks was absolutely the quintessential punk album of the time. And a great album in its own right. In my opinion, it's impossible to denigrate it without denigrating punk music in general.
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