We’re digging into the Far Out Magazine vault to bring you a piece of rock and roll history as you’ve never heard it before.
The Clash’s song ‘London Calling’ is one of the most definitive moments of the 1970s. It changed the course of the band’s career as they went from underground sensations to bringing punk to the masses, if you’re reading this then the track will undoubtedly be one you’ve devoured 100s of times before—but have you ever heard it featuring solely Joe Strummer’s isolated vocals. To nobody’s surprise, it is absolutely glorious and wonderfully poignant.
The track is an apocalyptic anthem in which Strummer details the many ways the world could end, which feels more relevant during the current climate than ever. It is arguably The Clash’s definitive song; it sums up everything that’s great about their ethos wrapped up into three-and-a-half minutes as they stick two fingers up at the establishment with their noted degree of intelligence.
Singer Strummer was unapologetically a news junkie, funnelling the world around him into his music and the band’s message. It was the reem of bad news that gave him the inspiration for the track. Written around the time of the Cold War, alongside a host of other life-threatening avenues, the song is rich in post-modernist dread. It is this impending sense of doom that is filtered through ‘London Calling’.
In an interview with Uncut magazine, Strummer stated that the inspiration to write the song came following a conversation he had with his then-fiancee Gaby Salter in which they put the world to rights in a taxi ride home to their flat ironically situated in West London’s World’s End, he said: “There was a lot of Cold War nonsense going on, and we knew that London was susceptible to flooding. She told me to write something about that.”
According to guitarist Mick Jones in the book Anatomy of a Song, it was a headline in the London Evening Standard triggered the inspiration for the lyrics which read: “The North Sea might rise and push up the Thames, flooding the city.” Jones revealed how the band incorporated this into ‘London Calling’ and said: “We flipped. To us, the headline was just another example of how everything was coming undone.”
‘London Calling‘ would see the band gain notoriety in the US, with the eponymous album being universally loved by critics across the globe despite its Britain-centric direction. Released around the time that Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister of Britain, with their snarling intellectualism, The Clash soon became the voice of the disillusioned youth on both sides of the Atlantic.
The title track for the record perfectly captures the voice of the largely ignored majority at that period of time. As Joe Strummer pointed his gun at the neo-liberalism that he deemed ruining society, he unleashed a vocal that has gone down in the annals of rock and roll history as one of the most passionate of all time.
In this isolated vocal track you can not only hear all of the anger, trepidation and passion that Strummer employed but also the voice of a generation looking to kick out against the establishment.
Below is the most connective isolated vocal you will ever hear, Joe Strummer on The Clash’s ‘London Calling’. Lucky for you, we’ve also got the rest of the record too.