Diseño: Jennifer Ancizar a partir de la portada del álbum.
Diseño: Jennifer Ancizar a partir de la portada del álbum.

The scratched record: London Calling

4 minutos / Carlos M. Mérida

29.09.2020 / Worn-out record,  Reviews

A music archive that is respected should have this among its most expensive pieces, and I will not be less. Note that it has historically been ranked among the best rock albums of both the '70s and' 80s (it was released in the UK in December 1979 and in the United States in January 1980). Which, all things considered, is a perfect metaphor, a nod to culture; because few albums interpret like this one what that decade-long transition was, and the resonances it had in the genre's costume ball. It's post-punk from punk.

Another historical coincidence, which could be read as a subtle clue to interpret the narrative of popular music of the 20th century, is that the phonogram opens with London Calling: aggressive, intense, visceral, furious, and closes with Train in Vain: one more theme well danceable including at the last minute, which refers earlier to Off the Wall (Epic, 1979) than to Never Mind the Bollocks, Here´s the Sex Pistols (Virgin Records, 1977), as if Michael Jackson had won over Johnny Rotten, Glen Matlock and session band family. This conversation of styles, strengthened when the Train in Vain single came out in the United States, with London Calling as the B-side, has an enunciative film script charge. It was time to put down the row and start moving the skeleton, which was the last thing the angry lads who attended London clubs in the late 1970s thought. The punk was dead.

The dissident sensibility that the Strummer / Jones duo invoices towards this style - although it was always there crouched behind the black leather pants and its bad boy looks - emerges unapologetically on this album. Let's look at Spanish Bombs, the sixth track; A real punk did not sing in Spanish (or whatever that was) and with the voice of a baptism godfather: “… I leather you [I want] infinite, I leather you [I want], oh! ma '[my] heart ”. It didn't matter that The Clash was talking about the war, punk orthodoxy wasn't going to agree. They had matured, they were no longer interested in the “white riots” from their debut album, and they weren't ashamed to say so. To the high school kids who idolized them and at that time rehearsed with their garage bands, they said it very clearly in Death or Glory: “In every dingy basement / on every dingy street / Every dragging handclap / over every dragging beat / That's just the beat of time / beat that must go on / If you've been trying for years / We already heard your song ”.

But let's talk about London Calling, the subject. Let's face it, the full record is fine, hulking, master piece and all, but lacking this cut the bass that Paul Simonon is breaking in the cover photo, it wouldn't be on permanent display at the Cleveland Hall of Fame. I dare more, maybe we wouldn't say “great album” if that song wasn't the opening. It is one of the most beautiful and impressive works of art of all time. So. London Calling is as much as that I just said. You're going down track seven or eight and you're still thinking about the hammering of the guitar and drums from the beginning. That opening riff is a steamroller. Let's run, they are knocking down the door! When you come across one of those tremulous officials, delegates of gross materialism, art scientists, who think they can explain its emotional and mysterious component, that don't-know-what that we all know but no one has been able to name or take a picture of, make him listen to the riff we're talking about, let's see what it says. Because don't screw me! What is there is a box and two singaos chords in time!

The lyrics are one of the most beautiful serenades that a city has ever sung. When Joe Strummer starts singing London, she gets horny, paints all over herself, her famous mist disperses and she walks out onto the balcony proudly, smiling, with her elbows on the railing and her face in her hands to listen to what this boy tells her, he says he lives near the river. London Calling is not a punk song. With punk you sweat and spit, you don't cry.

Carlos M. Mérida

Oidor. Coleccionista sin espacio. Leguleyo. Temeroso de las abejas y de los vientos huracanados.

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