500 Greatest Albums
Here’s our list of seminal international albums including The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones among others
8. London Calling – The Clash
Recorded in 1979 in London, which was then wrenched by surging unemployment and drug addiction, and released in America in January 1980, the dawn of an uncertain decade, London Calling is nineteen songs of apocalypse fueled by an unbending faith in rock & roll to beat back the darkness. Produced with no-surrender energy by legendary Sixties studio madman Guy Stevens, the Clash’s third album sounds like a free-form radio broadcast from the end of the world, skidding from bleak punk (“London Calling”) to rampaging ska (“Wrong ‘Em Boyo”) and disco resignation (“Lost in the Supermarket”). The album was made in dire straits, too. The band was heavily in debt; singer-guitarists Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, the Clash’s Lennon and McCartney, wrote together in Jones’ grandmother’s flat, where he was living for lack of dough. But the Clash also cranked up the hope. The album ends with “Train in Vain,” a rousing song of fidelity (originally unlisted on the back cover) that became the sound of triumph: the Clash’s first Top Thirty single in the U.S.