Just for the record: The Clash make a classic hard left turn
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In December 1989, Rolling Stone published a list of what it considered to be the 100 best albums of the decade, with the Clash’s London Calling (CBS) coming in at number one. Some critics immediately pointed out that the album, the band’s third studio effort, was actually released in 1979 – which does seem to be nitpicking, considering the long shadow that wonderful double LP cast over the 1980s.
By 1978, the Clash had established themselves as a leading act in Britain’s punk scene, charging their music with a fiery, leftist idealism that was at odds with the nihilism of their contemporaries, such as the Sex Pistols and the Damned.
At the same time, though, the group were growing frustrated at punk’s rigid limitations. They had also run out of fresh material, with principal composers Joe Strummer and Mick Jones both struck by writer’s block and unable to come up with any new songs in over a year. Their previous release, 1979’s Cost of Living EP, had consisted of three older songs and an inspired cover of the 1965 Bobby Fuller Four hit, I Fought The Law...