Wow, it’s been 5 years since I listened to London Calling. My priorities in the order that I listen to these albums has kept on warping that it’s only now that I get to their second entry on this list. It’s a bit weird to be stepping back in their chronology, as I prefer to listen to albums in order, but that’s how it goes.
With The Clash being their debut album everything is a bit more rough, ready and angsty when compared to what I heard later. Whilst this is still very much a punk rock album this is, as one of the tracks attests, very true to this genre’s roots in garage rock. It’s worth mentioning this as the punk on offer in The Clash is markedly different to the type of punk that you would hear in Patti Smith’s more poetic Horses.
Where you would get something more considered and measured (at least for punk) on London Calling, everything on this debut feels a lot more frenetic. There is anger in these lyrics around topics of youth, racism and (as you see in the song ‘Job Opportunities’) unemployment. After all this is an album born out of Britain being in pretty dire circumstances with the three-day week, miner’s strikes and all the black outs. Really it was the perfect time for punk to come out and take on the anger of the younger generation.
Despite everything being raw and unpolished The Clash is a very good album, especially for the genre. The songs are brief energetic fireworks that end at the right time and some can even be quite catchy. It’s a good album to keep you awake on the train home when you are being delayed by signal problems… and for when you need to motivate yourself at work.