Playing With (and Burying) the Big Boys

The Clash's "London Calling" at 40

The Madrid daily newspaper El Pais asked me for a comment on the Clash’s London Calling to include in a 40th anniversary piece. I sent this brief one-paragraph encomium, presented here in the original English.

London Calling is honored for many excellent reasons, not least its audacity: a double album by the band that personified punk anti-“commercial” brevity and defiance going long and ranging far in both songwriting and instrumentation—the horn-fed “The Card Cheat” features M. Jones on piano! It was where they announced that they wanted to play with the big boys and buried most of them forthwith. But for me it still doesn’t top the their self-titled U.K. debut, the raw economy, stealth tunefulness, and political smarts of which know no equal in rock and roll.