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5 Unknown Facts About ‘London Calling’

Image Source: Sven Hansche @ Shutterstock

In 1979, The Clash, with very little money, began working on their third album in their studio. They were experiencing writer’s block and hadn’t written any songs yet.

However, this difficult start ultimately led to ‘London Calling’ being recognized as the eighth greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone, as well as one of the best albums of the ’80s. Here are some surprising facts about the making of ‘London Calling’:

The Producer Had Some…Problems

Guy Stevens, who struggled with addiction, was hired as the producer despite his unpredictable behavior. He would often throw ladders and chairs around, which concerned the record company CBS. His behavior posed a risk to the album’s production.

The Photographer Thought the Cover Shot Was Too Out Of Focus

Ironically, the photographer believed the photo used for the album cover was too blurry and didn’t want it to be used. However, Joe Strummer, one of the band members, vetoed the decision and insisted on using the captured photo.

Soccer Gave Them Inspiration

During their rehearsal breaks, the band members would play soccer. Joe Strummer mentioned in an interview that they would play until they couldn’t anymore and then start playing music. It served as a warm-up activity. Everyone who visited the studio was encouraged to join their game, including the CBS record executives who experienced their fair share of kicks and tumbles.

U.K. And U.S. Events Influenced The Title Track

‘London Calling’ refers to the signal of the BBC World Service. The song itself explores themes of unemployment, drug abuse, and racism–issues that were prevalent in Great Britain during that time. The band respected and enjoyed earlier rock music, but they felt an urgency to address the new and alarming issues that people were facing in their era.

Contrary To Popular Belief, “Train in Vain” Was Not A Secret Track

‘Train in Vain,’ the album’s biggest single in the U.S., was not initially listed in the CD sleeve. Instead, it was paired with a magazine called New Musical Express as a giveaway promotion. Although some Clash websites referred to it as a “hidden track,” it was never intended to be hidden. The track was later included in the list of songs in subsequent editions of the double album.

Image Source: Sven Hansche @ Shutterstock

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