A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that London Calling is the masterpiece of British punk pioneers The Clash. The double-album and one single, "Train in Vain," were Top 40 hits in the United States, and the album tops Rolling Stone's list of the greatest albums of the 1980s (even though it was released in '79). The Clash fused aggressive punk with ska, reggae, and rockabilly to put across their strong anti-authoritarian, anti-brutality message. These songs feature a substantial amount of violent imagery -- guns, bombs, death, war -- but most often to emphasize the cruelty of abusing power and the anger of the oppressed. There are also a few songs with profane language, and several depictions of drug and alcohol use (cocaine, pot, opium, gin, beer); these incidents are meant to show a gritty slice of life, and substance abuse is never glorified.
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What's the story?
The double-album LONDON CALLING was the third release by British punk band The Clash, and is widely considered to be their masterpiece. The album takes the group's hard-rocking garage-band style to a new, varied level by introducing elements of reggae, ska, and rockabilly. Fronted by vocalists/songwriters Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, The Clash was a very political band, whose original songs have served as a rallying cry for oppressed, working-class youth, and as an inspiration to young bands since the 1970s.
Is it any good?
London Calling is arguably the greatest punk record of all time, and it's certainly The Clash's best. Not a single song on this double-album is a throwaway. All are powerful political anthems, in varying styles and tempos, with brutal, insightful lyrics. To rock 'n' roll listeners in the late '70s/early '80s who had never heard reggae or ska before this album was first released, London Calling was a revelation that opened up a world of new music. Today, in a more globally aware musical time, the sounds may not be as life-changing, but the ideas still can be.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the meaning of the title track, "London Calling." What do they mean when they sing, "Now that war is declared," or "Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust"?
Why do you think the lyrics on London Calling contain so much violence?
Why do you think this album was chosen by Rolling Stone as the greatest album of the 1980s?
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