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London Calling
The Clash
London Calling is the anthem of an era. Those opening beats go hand in hand with Mrs Thatcher triumphant outside Number 10 and police brandishing riot shields in Brixton. It was 1980. It was the year when "All that phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust".
The Clash
Song facts
Composer Joe Strummer/
Mick Jones
Genre Rock
Album London Calling
Year of Release 1979
But London Calling is not a lament to a country in crisis. It's Joe Strummer's battle hymn. His message urges "Come out of the cupboard, all you boys and girls," and the lyrics climax in a Tarzan-like holler that swears in the law of the jungle. He doesn't finish there: the title of the song comes from the BBC World Service's call signal to broadcast, Strummer's 'v 'sign to this bastion of the Establishment.

London Calling ties in with punk and anarchy but this is no half-baked attempt at protest. It's an organised attack. A strong, military drumbeat underpins the song and incites the people to march down the streets "Now that war is declared - and battle come down."

Joe Strummer and Mick Jones wrote London Calling when The Clash was mired in debt and even their manager had deserted. Desperate times, indeed. And if a cornered Strummer cannot incite you to rail against The System, nothing can.

Susan McFarland

Joe Strummer, Oct 1999
Joe Strummer
Joe Strummer talks about how he never thought punk would make it into the mainstream.

Listen Listen to Joe Strummer

Other versions
The Calling
Listen Is it possible for an American band to cover London Calling? Californian quintet The Calling give it a go.

It was all anger and anarchy. This song sums up my youth like no other.


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