Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Cassette experiment day 70 - The Clash 'London Calling'

I’d like to start with a little musical history lesson today. It’s aimed at those who grew up in the CD and mp3 generation. If you pre-date this period (as I do) then you may wish to skip the next paragraph as you might find it just a little bit patronising – sorry.
In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s an album that contained 70-80 minutes of music was known as a double-album. Single albums generally consisted of 20 minutes per side, give or take a few minutes – so if you had any more music than this you would either keep it for the next one, or release a double album consisting of two discs, often contained in a gatefold sleeve.
Some of the greatest albums ever made have been double albums. ‘The Beatles’ by The Beatles, ‘Blonde on Blonde’ by Bob Dylan, ‘Out of the Blue’ by ELO, ‘Songs in the key of life’ by Stevie Wonder, ‘The lamb lies down on Broadway’ by Genesis, ‘Tusk’ by Fleetwood Mac. I could go on (as you know!).
One of the many, many things that the ‘Punk movement’ used to sneer at was the music ‘establishment’, and one of the most ‘establishment’ aspects of music was the double album. Then something changed. A punk band (in attitude if not in music) released one of the greatest ever double albums – possibly the greatest ever.
Released just before Christmas 1979, ‘London Calling’ by The Clash is one of the most consistently exciting albums ever released. From the slightly over-familiar title track all the way through to the un-credited closer ‘Train in vain’ the album sparkles with energy and quality.
Personal favourites are ‘The right profile’, ‘Clampdown’, ‘The guns of Brixton’, ‘Death or glory’ and the aforementioned ‘Train in vain’. But play me anything and I’ll just grin from ear to slightly sticky-out ear.
The album’s iconic artwork mirrors that of Elvis Presley’s debut LP, which I also own. Unfortunately the cover of my copy of Elvis’ debut is badly torn. Spookily, as you can see from the picture above, so is my ‘London Calling’ cassette insert.
And of course following ‘London Calling’, The Clash proceeded to record one of the all time great triple albums, ‘Sandinista’, of which I have two vinyl copies and one CD copy, but no cassette copies. So it won’t feature in the cassette experiment in the weeks to come. Sorry.
Label – CBS
Year – 1979
If you can't be bothered to look up the first 40 days of The Cassette Experiment individually, then you may wish to hunt down 'The great cassette experiment - The first 40 days' on your kindle by following the link below;

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