Lazy Friday Playlist: Calling London by The Clash

What happens when you listen to a classic album in reverse order end to start?

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London Calling by The Clash is one of the greatest albums of the 1980s. It also in hindsight is a fantastic climactic piece to the original cohort of punk rock bands and their history before they went their separate ways into diverse genres such as New Wave, Ska, or Oi.

I personally agree with the idea that art needs to be digested from different perspectives and at different angles. We should look at paintings from different points in a room, watch movies on different sizes and types of viewing systems, and listen to music in all variations, including playlist order.

In this spirit, a few months ago I decided to reverse the order of London Calling and listen to what happens as a result. I was particularly interested in this experiment because, as many critics have been saying for decades now, the original album’s ordering of tracks is itself a stroke of genius that has made it stand the test of time. While comparable offerings by The Ramones and Sex Pistols are still required listening for fans of the genre, LC went far beyond expectations and became a classic album because each song flows into the next with a beat and tempo that can only be compared with classic short story anthologies such as Dubliners by James Joyce. Like that famous book, each tune on LC is an epiphany. The Clash were at the height of their musical power, using their time in the studio to experiment with instrumentation and styles as diverse as jazz, rockabilly, reggae, hip hop, and country-western while staying true to their rocker roots.

Personally I find the results intriguing, much in the same way I react when I watch the Star Wars films in an alternate order or when I viewed Shining Forwards and Backwards, which overlapped the Stanley Kubrick classic on top of itself running in reverse order, making it so you watched the start and end of the film in the same moment.

  1. Train in Vain
  2. Revolution Rock
  3. I’m Not Down
  4. Four Horsemen
  5. Lover’s Rock
  6. The Card Cheat
  7. Koka Kola
  8. Death or Glory
  9. Wrong ’em Boyo
  10. The Guns of Brixton
  11. Clampdown
  12. Lost in the Supermarket
  13. The Right Profile
  14. Spanish Bombs
  15. Rudie Can’t Fail
  16. Hateful
  17. Jimmy Jazz
  18. Brand New Cadillac
  19. London Calling
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