Who sang the song Clampdown in 1979

The Clash: London Calling

by Arnd Müller,

I.The British band The Clash played their first concert in the summer of 1976 as opening act for the Sex Pistols. A year later, the rough punk rock of the self-titled debut album landed straight at number 12 on the UK charts. In 1978, Give ‘Em Enough Rope‘ even climbed to second place.

The USA tried to be successful with the somewhat smoother sound. Joe Strummer aka John Graham Mellor (voc, g), Mick Jones (g, voc), Paul Simonon (b, voc) and Topper Headon (dr, perc) only succeeded in doing this with London Calling ‘. At the end of 1979 the double LP landed at number 9 in the UK charts. In the spring of 1980 it cracked the US top 30.

The stoic guitar quarters and an ingeniously engaging bass lick still pull straight into the eponymous, London Calling ‘. But is that still punk? The song combines playful precision with melodic pop potential. The mélange of overlapping delay / reverb effects of the vocals, guitar feedback and backwards solo demonstrates the inventiveness of a band that was not afraid of crossing borders. Then it goes with the interpretation of the Vince Taylor classic, Brand New Cadillac ‘with a lot of reverb back to the rockabilly of the fifties. In contrast, Lost In The Supermarket ‘, whose tight drum beat plus clever guitar melody reflects the disco boom of the 70s. The rocky, Clampdown ‘is reminiscent of David Bowie with its deep, dark vocals. In addition, the album pervades the preference for reggae and dub. From today's perspective, the hypnotic bass riff in The Guns Of Brixton sounds like the template for a trip-hop number from the 90s. Bassist Simonon then presented his first own clash song, which he also sang himself. The interpretation of, Wrong ‘Em Boyo‘, a hit by the Jamaican rocksteady band The Rulers, goes straight to the legs with offbeat and brass in Ska mode à la Madness.

In the foreground of the band sound is the clean to distorted sound of Joe Strummer, which he produced with a 66 Fender Telecaster. The model with a Rosewood fingerboard originally had a sunburst finish, which was later primed gray and then painted over black. In addition, Joe decorated his instrument over the years, among other things. with various stickers. Of this rocked-down Telecaster, there was later also a signature model from Fender. It was usually amplified with a Silverface Fender Twin Reverb from the 70s, at the end of '79 Strummer switched to a Music Man combo amplifier (212- HD One Thirty or One Fifty). The amp was operated live with an additional 2 × 12 ″ box. Joe only used some reverb as an effect.

Mick Jones was the perfect complement to Strummer with his distorted sound. At first he used a Gibson Les Paul Junior, later he switched to Les Paul Standard and Les Paul Custom. At the end of the 1970s, Jones played a Mesa Boogie Mark I 100 watt combo, in which the loudspeaker was removed so that he could now fire a 4 × 12 ″ Marshall speaker. On stage he used a Mesa Boogie Mark II (100 watts) plus a 4 × 12 ″ Marshall box. He ended up using a Phase 100 and a Flanger from MXR and a Roland Space Echo RE-201.

The versatile Paul Simonon could actually play everything from punk rock and reggae to funk and jazz. For the sustaining, slightly compressed sound that always allowed dynamic fills and lines, Paul used the tried and tested combination of Ampeg SVT with an 8 × 10 “box and a white Fender Precision Bass. And that's exactly the model Simonon smashes on the album cover. Pennie Smith's photo was the basis for one of the most popular LP covers in rock history.

The Clash moved even further away from 1-2-3-4 punk rock with their third album. Especially since the second album, the increasing turn to the Jamaican musical tradition opened up new perspectives, which led to later pop hits such as The Magnificent Seven ‘or Rock The Cashba‘. Strummer's critical and sharp statements on social and political developments stand out even more clearly from the carefully arranged pieces. A quote from Strummer from the Clash compilation 'Hits Back' (2013) sums up what 'London Calling' was all about: “I think people should know that we are anti-fascist, against violence, against Racism and for creativity are. We are against ignorance. "


(From guitar & bass 05/2018)

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