If I ever end up taking refuge in a bomb shelter someday, this is one of 10 albums that go underground with me – along with five boxes of Little Debbie Nutty Buddy treats and 14 cans of Spam. The cover of Paul Simonon smashing his bass guitar on stage might have been an indicator of my state of mind in 1980 when the album was released. I was trying to process high school, girls and weekends at the Cuckoo’s Nest – nothing notably traumatic, just run-of-the-mill teenage angst and wonderment.
Photographer Pennie Smith reported that the late Clash frontman Joe Strummer, who died in 2002, picked the photo for the cover. Great decision. Iconic.
“The Clash was not only trying to assault the tame, conventional direction of corporate rock,” wrote Robert Hilburn in the Los Angeles Times, “but also break through the limitations of punk by adding touches of everything from rockabilly to reggae.”
Regrettably, the internal band dynamics reflected their combustible band name – especially the break with Mick Jones. Nevertheless, the whole “London Calling” package worked for me – and apparently a lot of other fans. I continue to be grateful for Joe, Mick, Paul and Topper.
Happy International Clash Day.