The Clash – London Calling album coverRodney
The Iconic album cover ‘London Calling’ by The Clash. The album was released on 14th December 1979. It didn’t hit the shores of the USA until January 1980. With this delay the album has been known as ‘The best album of the Seventies’ by NME and ‘Best album of the best album of the Eighties’ by Rolling Stone.
In the lyrics to the title track shows periodically what was happening at the time. Instability marked by the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the Iran Hostage crisis. Additionally the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the rise of Margaret Thatcher in England, and a major energy crisis. Joe Strummer’s lyrics show a broadcast of a dystopian future.
The iconic album cover is from a show from Palladium, New York September 1979. After the band finished their show photographer Pennie Smith walked away with a photo of Paul Simonon smashing his bass onstage. That bass is on display at the museum of London. Beatrice Behlen, Senior Curator of Fashion and Decorative Arts said “We’re thrilled to have Paul Simonon’s Fender Precision bass on long-term loan. A seminal piece of music history. The moment the bass was smashed was immortalised on The Clash’s seminal album London Calling. A rallying call for Londoners and people around the world.” The Clash: London Calling exhibition. The exhibition includes other band relics, such as singer Joe Strummer’s personal notebook. Notes he wrote during the London Calling era, and several instruments used to record the album.
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Pennie Smith spoke to The Guardian about the night of iconic photo. “He (Simonon) was in a really bad mood,” she says, “and that wasn’t like him.” Pennie took a step back to get a better focus with her 35mm Pentax – and that’s when it all happened. Simonon, like with a fury raised his Fender Precision like an axe, turned around from Joe Strummer, and smashed the bass. “It wasn’t a choice to take the shot,” Pennie says. “My finger just went off.”
The photograph displayed Simonon’s rage in grainy black and white. Pennie said “You can’t really tell it’s Paul, But I guess that’s the point.” The next day on the tour bus Joe Strummer chose the image for the album cover. The image became a snapshot of the era. In 2002 Q magazine named it the greatest rock’n’roll photo of all time. Pennie thought different “I said, ‘It’s completely out of focus, it won’t work!’ But Joe wouldn’t have it. He said, ‘That one is the photo.’ So I thought, ‘OK, I’m not going to argue. It’s your bloody album, get on with it.”
Not only is the album cover great but so are the songs. Check it out on Spotify