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Published on Mar 15, 2009
London Calling is the third album by English punk rock band The Clash, released 14 December 1979, on CBS Records in the UK and in January 1980 on Epic Records in the United States. The album represented a change in The Clash's musical style, and featured elements of ska, pop, soul, rockabilly and reggae music. The album's subject matter included unemployment, racial conflict, drug use, and the responsibilities of adulthood.
The album received highly positive reviews and was ranked at number eight on Rolling Stone' list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003.London Calling was a top ten album in the UK, and its lead single "London Calling" was a top twenty single.It has sold over two million copies worldwide,and was certified platinum in the United States.
After recording their 1978 album Give 'Em Enough Rope in the United States, the band separated from their manager Bernard Rhodes.This separation meant that the band had to leave their rehearsal studio in Camden Town and find another location to compose their music. Drawing inspiration from rockabilly, ska, reggae and jazz,the band began work on the album during the summer of 1979. Tour manager Johnny Green had found the band a new place to rehearse called Vanilla Studios in Pimlico, which was located in the back of a garage.The band quickly wrote and recorded demos, with Jones composing and arranging much of the music and Strummer supplying the lyrics.
In August 1979, the band entered Wessex Studios to begin recording London Calling. The Clash asked Guy Stevens to produce the album, much to the dismay of CBS Records.Stevens had alcohol and drug problems and his production methods were unconventional.While recording he would often swing ladders and throw chairs around the band to create an emotional atmosphere.The entire album was recorded within a matter of weeks, with many songs recorded in one or two takes.
The album's cover features a photograph of Simonon smashing his Fender Precision Bass against the stage at The Palladium in New York City on 21 September 1979 during the "Clash Take the Fifth" US tour.Pennie Smith, who photographed the band for the album, originally did not want the photograph to be used. She thought that it was too out of focus, but Strummer and graphic designer Ray Lowry thought it would make a good album cover.In 2002, Smith's photograph was named the best rock and roll photograph of all time by Q magazine, commenting that "it captures the ultimate rock'n'roll moment - total loss of control".
The cover artwork was designed by Lowry and was a homage to the design of Elvis Presley's debut album.The cover was named the ninth best album cover of all time by Q magazine in 2001.