The Clash: London Calling Live

This mix pulls together unreleased Clash performances to approximate a live version of the album “London Calling.” It includes 16 of the album’s 19 songs. The band does not appear to have played the other three in concert (“The Right Profile,” “Lovers Rock,” “The Card Cheat”).

It’s a challenge to make such a mix, due to the poor sonics of most Clash bootlegs and the infrequency with which some of the “London Calling” songs appear on recordings. A few songs appear only once or twice, in terrible quality. (I hasten to add that I'm not a Clash bootleg expert.)

Nonetheless, I think this mix manages to find exciting, clear performances of nearly every song, even if the original recording situation didn’t deliver a perfect mix or giant sonic punch. 

I’ve balanced the volume and sequenced the mix to gently step you through sonic changes, gradually losing dynamic range. At the start of the mix, you’re right in front of the stage. By the end, you’ve moved to the back of the theatre, into the lobby, and finally, with “Four Horsemen,” into the bathroom.

This mix owes a big debt to @a_mike_supreme, who supplied a considerable number of hard-to-find tracks and great versions, and then provided essential feedback on the first draft. 

Cover art by Pennie Smith.

51-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Clampdown (5/10/81 Amsterdam)
  • Train in Vain (5/10/81 Amsterdam)
  • Brand New Cadillac (6/9/81 NYC)
  • Spanish Bombs (11/27/82 Jamaica)
  • London Calling (9/21/79 NYC)
  • Koka Kola (9/21/79 NYC)
  • Jimmy Jazz (9/14/79 Chicago)
  • Guns of Brixton (3/8/80 Passaic, NJ)
  • Wrong ‘Em Boyo (2/27/80 Paris)
  • Lost in the Supermarket (5/22/83 San Antonio)
  • Revolution Rock (10/81 London?)
  • Death or Glory (5/19/83 Wichita Falls, TX)
  • Rudie Can’t Fail (3/7/80 NYC)
  • I’m Not Down (7/6/79 London)
  • Hateful (7/6/79 London)
  • Four Horsemen (8/4/79 Finland)

If you’d like to check out a live version of the album “Sandinista!,” you’ll find that right here!

The official live release, “From Here to Eternity,” contains versions of three “London Calling” songs: “Train in Vain” and “Guns of Brixton” from June 1981, and “London Calling” from September 1982.

The official release, “Live at Shea Stadium,” recorded October 1982, contains versions of the same three songs, plus “Spanish Bombs” and “Clampdown.”

The 25th anniversary edition CD of "London Calling" included The Vanilla Tapes, rehearsal sessions for the album. Spoiler: Even the murkiest of the live versions on this mix is probably better than anything on The Vanilla Tapes. 

And if you don't think the Clash's second album was possibly their best, try this version

Side Trips: The Clash – “Sandinista LIVE!”

I imagine that many fans of The Clash have taken a shot at reducing, expanding, or otherwise mutating “Sandinista!,” in search of whatever it is they feel needs finding in that album. To me, there’s an overcooked, dimly-lit lack of dynamism that keeps me at arm’s length.

This post’s live approach to the album’s (period’s) songs provides a decidedly different slant on things. None of the “Sandinista!” songs were played live before they were recorded for the album, and nearly half a year went by between its completion and their next live performance.

So, they had to learn how to play their slow-cooked studio songs live as a rock band, and then they knocked them out on stage alongside “Career Opportunities” and “Janie Jones.” Sandinista v2.

This compilation comes mostly from two performances from the first two months of that 1981 touring period (Amsterdam in May, a NYC Bond's show in June). I have added a few recordings from earlier and later to expand the coverage of relevant songs as far as I can. (Recording dates/locations are included on the song title tags.)

Halfway between the cubicle-gray (stoned all night in the mixing booth) vibe of the studio album and the immediacy of this chaotic live Clash is the “Sandinista!” that I like best. This period was the beginning of the end of the classic lineup with Topper Headon.

67-minute zipped mp3 file here 

  • The Leader
  • Somebody Got Murdered
  • Lightning Strikes
  • Bankrobber
  • Ivan Meets G.I. Joe
  • Charlie Don’t Surf
  • This is Radio Clash
  • One More Time
  • Broadway
  • Street Parade
  • The Call Up
  • The Magnificent Seven
  • Lightning Strikes
  • Corner Soul
  • Washington Bullets
  • Armagideon Time
  • Junco Partner
  • Police on My Back

Sidetrips: The Clash – “Midnight to Six” (1978)

49-minute mp3 folder here

  • English Civil War
  • White Man in Hammersmith Palais
  • Tommy Gun
  • I Fought the Law
  • Groovy Times
  • Julie’s Been Working for the Drug Squad
  • Guns on the Roof
  • Gates of the West
  • Last Gang in Town
  • Pressure Drop
  • Safe European Home
  • Stay Free
  • Time is Tight
  • Capital Radio 2

This mix aims to be the absolutely fantastic second Clash album that might have been. At least as good as “The Clash” and “London Calling.”  It might even have been the one you would have given to a friend to try to convert them to the band – far more mature than the first album, shinier and less shaggy than the third one. 

The main problems with “Give 'Em Enough Rope” are that all of the 1978 songs that sound most alike are on it, some of them are the weakest of the year, and there are only 10, total. Tempo and mood keep coming back to the same place. It feels like a heavy slab and an insubstantial album at the same time.