When this first came out, records in NZ (remember records?) came out from England by slow boat, and English punk records came out by row boat, if at all. (Anyone remember standing in line at the bottom of Queen St to pick up one of the very few Joy Division imports in the country? Back when you had to save up for months and put your name down for one of the limited number imported? I tell you, those weren't the days.)
Fortunately, I had a girl-friend visiting the UK just as this came out, and she brought me back three wonderful vinyl presents*, including this one, making me one of the fortunate few in New Zealand to hear what the Clash's new record sounded like in the week it came out. My friends and I gathered expectantly around the wind-up gramophone as I unwrapped the boon, and I dropped the needle expectantly. It started well. 'London Calling' was no 'Safe European Home' -- or even a 'Janie Jones' -- but it was good and fresh and pungent, but from there it all sort of seemed to slide little by little towards limpness, from 'Brand New Bloody Cadillac' (limp filler) and ending up with the song they were too embarrassed even to include on the sleeve, 'Train in Vain.'
The Clash had gone disco. Uuurgh.
The record sat unloved for months. Even to an untrained teenage ear it was clear this was a different Clash, and a different Clash was not what I had signed up for. Eventually however, over time, its few treats won me over. This was a good record. A good single record. There was too much fluff; too much stuff that in the Age of Vinyl couldn't simply be programmed away and avoided -- the only recourse was to scratch a nail through the grooves you needed to avoid. I didn't, but I was often sorely tempted. Whatever fitness I had in in my early teenage years I attribute to getting up and down a lot to skip tracks on this album
Here then is the record The Clash should have put out, sans dreck -- London Calling Redux:
1. London Callng
2. Rudie Can't Fail
4. Guns of Brixton
5. Spanish Bombs
1. The Card Cheat
2. Wrong 'em Boyo
3. Death or Glory
4. I'm Not Down
5. Lost in the SuperMarket
6. Jimmy Jazz
-------------------------------------*The other two records, bless her, were Stiff Little Fingers' Inflammable Material, and Buzzcocks' A Different Kind of Tension -- both also just released. Waddagirl!