Route 19 Revisited: The Clash and London Calling

Route 19 Revisited: The Clash and London Calling

Marcus Gray

Language: English

Pages: 560

ISBN: 1593762933

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Twenty-eight years after its original release, The Clash’s London Calling was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame as a “recording of lasting qualitative or historical significance.” It topped polls on both sides of the Atlantic for the best album of the seventies (and eighties) and in publications as wide-ranging as Rolling Stone, VIBE, Pitchfork, and NME, and it regularly hits the top ten on greatest-albums-of-all-time-lists. Even its cover—the instantly recognizable image of Paul Simonon smashing his bass guitar—has attained iconic status, inspiring countless imitations and even being voted the best rock ’n’ roll photograph ever by Q magazine.

Now the breakthrough album from the foremost band of the punk era gets the close critical eye it deserves. Marcus Gray examines London Calling from every vantage imaginable, from the recording sessions and the state of the world it was recorded in to the album’s long afterlife, bringing new levels of understanding to one of punk rock’s greatest achievements. Leaving no detail unexplored, he provides a song-by-song breakdown covering when each was written and where, what inspired each song, and what in turn each song inspired, making this book a must-read for Clash fans.

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father at the Brixton Astoria (which would later become the Brixton Academy music venue), where the audience responded in the traditional Jamaican participatory style, best suited to films that were action rather than plot- or dialogue-driven, and loud with it. At that time, the staple fare was made up of westerns, war films and thrillers: anything with chases and fights and guns. Soon after Paul’s parents split up, his mother’s new boyfriend Michael Short moved in to Shakespeare Road. And soon

Melody Maker’s Paolo Hewitt tackled him about this latest boost to Clash mythology in late 1980. ‘There’s not a lot we had to do with it,’ he said. ‘She’s an artist herself, and that’s one of her testaments.’ First published in October 1980, it is still in print today. Such was the level of interest for all things Clash in America that by autumn 1980 Epic were actively looking for more material to meet demand. The solution was a 10-inch album (no gimmick knowingly left unexplored) entitled Black

1983, but this was abandoned when Mick Jones was sacked that year. Later, several of the individual tracks had been in the running for inclusion on From Here to Eternity, until replaced by ‘better’ versions from an earlier 1982 show at the Orpheum Theater in Boston. Generally well received, Live at Shea Stadium catches the Clash with a hard-rockin’ sound geared to American stadia. Some fans expressed surprise that Sony BMG (as they were by now) couldn’t have found a Clash headlining show that

these drafts round to Mick’s place, or to Rehearsals Rehearsals, and hand them over. Mick would then either sit and work up a tune on the spot, with Joe offering comments, as with ‘London’s Burning’ and ‘White Riot’, or Mick would work on the song overnight, or during a longer break from rehearsals, as with ‘Hate & War’, ‘Remote Control’ and ‘Garageland’. Joe’s words had internal rhythms which, Mick found, naturally dictated how the accompanying tune should go. From time to time he would make a

tracks as well as disliked ones. Since then, file sharing, downloading and the iPod have turned all the music ever made in the world into a giant random-play personal jukebox. Even as form seems to be readying itself to follow function into the ether, though, artists have begun to hold high-profile live concert events in which they perform their classic albums of yesteryear in their original sequence. A money-grubbing exercise in nostalgia aimed at an ageing section of the populace unwilling or

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