London Calling (U.S. Edition) Turns 30!

If Tuesday, January 5 happens to be your 30th birthday, then congratulations - you share a birthday with the U.S. release of The Clash’s epochal London Calling. Released in the U.K. in mid-December of ‘79, the double album reached these shores a few weeks thereafter, at the dawn of a brand new decade. Hopefully you don't need me to expound on its many virtues - but if you do, London Calling is a milestone in the annals of rock history. It's an undeniable classic that propelled the "only band that mattered" from notoriety to worldwide acclaim.

After two albums of searing punk rock, London Calling represented a definitive break from the confines of being a “punk” band - no longer did the term apply to The Clash. Suddenly the most revolutionary, most important, band of its generation was not only toying with but assimilating a wide array of non-punk influences into its politically and socially charged songs. The quartet of Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, and Topper Headon had taken a great leap forward by the time of their third album, which included perfectly executed moves into rockabilly, ska, soul, reggae, pop, dub, classic rock, and more. Despite the band's continued disregard for some of their originators ("phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust"), the rock & roll traditions and mythologies alluded to throughout the 19 songs were indeed in good hands. In London Calling, The Clash produced one of the most ambitious albums in rock history. It’s also one of the very best. If ever there was an album's anniversary to be celebrated, this is it.

Here they are making their U.S. television debut, performing “London Calling” & “Train In Vain” on 4/25/80:


London Calling has been remastered and reissued several times over the past ten years or so, but the definitive version seems to be the 2004 edition, which includes 3 discs - the remastered album on disc 1, “The Vanilla Tapes” (a collection of demos and outtakes) on disc 2, and a third disc (DVD) with a documentary and live clips. Most relevant editions are available right here.

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