40 years ago, the British band The Clash published their third studio album “London calling”, a key work that formalized the musical opening of punk rock, with the incorporation of a varied range of styles and lyrics that clearly depicted the social status in which the capital city of that country lived.
At a time when the adolescent anger, elemental rhythms and harmonic simplicity that characterized the early days of the genre had shown signs of being exhausted, The Clash proposed to open the range with a combination that included reggae, ska, rockabilly and pop.
Songs like the one that gives the album its name, “Brand new cadillac”, “Jimmy jazz”, Rudie can’t fail “,” Lost in supermarket “,” Guns of Brixton “,” Revolution rock “,” Spanish bombs ” and “Train in vain”, among others, gave an account of it.
In addition to giving punk rock a new life and projecting the band internationally, “London calling” is considered a key album for having panned the music that was to rule for much of the 80s to come. like the “White Album” of The Beatles, it had done the same in 1968.
It happens that although within the punk scene there were already bands that cultivated Jamaican rhythms, and there were many others that explored alternatives that allowed a musical opening, no one had so far managed to make all these aspects coexist in the same universe.
The album was the result of a pivotal moment in the history of the genre and, in particular, of the band made up of Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, on guitars and vocals; Paul Simonon, on bass; and Topper Headon, on drums; that when he started working on that third album he was going through a crisis similar to that of punk rock.”
After the cultural explosion that had occurred in London between 1976 and 1977, with the Sex Pistols as the main musical spokesmen, the genre, like this flagship band, began to show signs of exhaustion and was crying out for a renewal that would give it new life. .
The iconic “London calling” cover, a photo of Simonon smashing his bass to the floor during a performance in New York, is perhaps the greatest symbol of punk rock figures’ disenchantment with the stagnation of the genre and the way in which they play. he had become a parody of himself.
This sentiment is even reminiscent of the one that in February 1978, Johnny Rotten, singer of the Sex Pistols, showed on a stage in San Francisco, in what was the last concert of that band.
The situation of The Clash was not very different at that time that, after two albums in which it had realized a slightly more stylized punk, but not so far from the traditional one, it was crying out for a new direction that would justify its continuity as group.
Away from their first manager, the troublesome Bernie Rodhes, and with a company that demanded a third job, the band thought of the Jamaican Lee Perry as a producer, instead of Sandy Pearlman, who had worked on the previous album, but failed. find him.
In his place appeared Guy Stevens, an eccentric producer with alcohol and drug problems, and an unorthodox method of work that consisted of untimely throwing chairs and tables on the ground, or provoking the members of the band while they played to generate a state of tension that was reflected in the performances.
That nerve managed to appear on the masterfully managed album and enhanced the lyrics of the songs that described the social havoc that conservatism wreaked on English society and, in particular, in the city that just over a decade earlier had been the scene of a flourishing and festive style that became known as “Swinging London”.
Interestingly, “London calling” made The Clash rise to the Olympus of the great groups in history and positioned it worldwide, but also, being the highest point of his career, it would be the point at which a slow decline would begin.
After a next job, the ambitious “Sandinista”, also a great commercial success and a milestone in its history, but with a less compact end result than its predecessor, the musical life of The Clash was going to start a downward spiral with the departure of some of its members and their subsequent separation in 1986.
The musical panorama posed for the years to come by The Clash in “London calling”, days before the beginning of the 80’s, was going to begin to mutate in the second half of that decade, with the appearance of unthinkable novelties by the end of 1979 .