Monday, July 20, 2009

Rock of Ages: The Clash - "The Guns of Brixton" (1980)

By 1980, the punk rock movement had already changed massively and splintered into a dozen different sub-genres. One thing is for sure, I never really got into a lot of all of that and can never ever say I am anywhere near punk rock. That being said, there is no denying the brilliance of probably the best band to come from the genre of punk rock, The Clash. They are the one band that is deemed punk rock that anyone and everyone can relate to. That's of course my humblest of opinions, but I digress. London Calling dropped in the US in 1980 and changed everything. The album careens around genre but there is still that defining sound of The Clash embedded amongst pseudo reggae ("Revolution Rock") to ska ("Rudie Can't Fail") to straight up rock and roll ("Clampdown.") Where The Clash excelled the most was on "The Guns of Brixton" Surprisingly, the song is written and sung by Paul Simonon and is the ONLY Clash song written solely by him that appears on any Clash recording. Kudos, Paul! You wrote the best one!

"The Guns of Brixton" is definitely a reggae song, but it is drenched in darkness. The theme of racial unrest in the Brixton section of London definitely penetrates the overall mood of this song. Paranoia and darkness cloud the music. It's a moody song on a record that jumps all over the place. The Clash have a way of creating wonderful moods and atmospheres in their music and this is why pigeonholing them into one genre seems strange. I am by no means a punk rocker, but it's this crossing the boundaries and sounding unlike any other band that came out of this time period. The Clash gave punk rock a unique feel and the ability to be more than angry, riff heavy rock. "Guns of Brixton" has one of these awesome moods to it with varying sounds and interesting instruments. Not to mention a goovy bass line, great guitars and the extremely awesome lyrics. There isn't a bad song in London Calling, but I have no doubt that "Guns of Brixton" is one of the best.

Up Next: Echo and the Bunnymen bring Liverpool back to the rock forefront

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