I have been listening to London Calling - the Clash's 1979 breakout album - on my morning drive recently, and wanted to blog about how fresh it still seems after 30 years. In fact, it's hard to believe that it was 30 years ago that I was first entranced by the hypnotic sounds of the title track.
It's aged really well, and seems almost playful now - at least tracks like "Jimmy Jazz" and "Lost in the Supermarket." Other tracks maintain their effrontery and anger as fresh as the first time I heard them. I'm thinking especially of "The Guns of Brixton," the lyrics of which predate the race riots that took place there in the 1980s, but are almost prescient in terms of depicting the tensions that were building at the time that bassist Paul Simonon penned the song in 1978, largely due to the heavy-handedness of the police.
Other songs that still resonate are "Working for the Clampdown" and "The Card Cheat."
One thing you never had to be afraid of with the Clash was being shortchanged. The 19 tracks on this album contain over an hour of listening. Their other recordings are similarly generous.
An interesting note about the album cover: it was a parody of/reflection on Elvis Presley's debut album, "Elvis Presley," which came out in 1957. Considered a "bad boy" in his day, by the time the Clash debuted with "London Calling," Elvis seemed positively wholesome, and the image of bassist Paul Simonon smashing his bass on the stage of the Palladium in New York City reinforces the new level to which being a "bad boy" had risen by that time.
Give the Clash a listen! If you've never heard them, it's high time; if you have, you'll enjoy the return trip.